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7 Habits That Can Help You Think Like a Scientist

7 Habits That Can Help You Think Like a Scientist

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison.

Many people believe that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. The truth is that he did not. It had been around for several years. In fact, there were more than twenty other inventors and scientists working on the light bulb when Edison started on his. What separated Edison from the others is that he was the first to achieve a light bulb that lasted for many hours. Edison succeeded by creating a vacuum inside the bulb and finding the proper filament to use.

Thomas Edison succeeded by repeatedly experimenting until he found the right solution. He made over 1,000 unsuccessful attempts until he did succeed. To Edison, those 1,000 attempts weren’t failures, they were 1,000 steps toward success. By thinking and using habits like Edison and other great scientists, we can learn how to change our mindset and innovate new ideas. Here are 7 habits that can help you think like a scientist.

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1. Expect Failure and Then Learn From It

You’re rarely ever going to get something perfect on the first try. When you don’t get it right, learn from it. Scientists treat failure as a data point. As a matter of fact, it’s also how they treat positive results. Data points eventually lead to an answer. To a scientist, failure or any negative result is not a bad thing because proving something is wrong is just as useful as proving something right as long as you are learning along the way.

Treat your failures as data points that steer you toward the correct answers.

2. Approach Every Issue With A Goal To Find A Creative Solution

Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Scientists believe that in order to solve a problem, you have to be able to stand back, observe it and define it. The next step is to then rephrase it. Ask how can you reword this problem to make it easier to solve. For example, don’t ask yourself how to increase your productivity; instead ask how you can make your job easier. By using more simple ways of looking at a problem, it suddenly will become less daunting.

Once you’re able to change your way of addressing the problem, you’re going to be more likely to find a creative solution.

3. Challenge Assumptions

Dictionaries define assumptions as something that is taken for granted. Scientists don’t like to take things for granted. They like to challenge conventional thoughts and turn those ideas upside down. They do it by experimenting with the assumption and then testing it to see if the results prove it to be true. We should all do the same thing. Take basic assumptions you have about your work or personal life and then determine a way to experiment with them to see if your assumptions are really true.

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For example, one assumption in business negotiations used to be the opposing-parties model where each side lined up along a board-room table and faced off. But, that assumption was challenged and soon the concept of win-win in negotiations was created and businesses treated the other party they were negotiating with not as an adversary but as a partner instead.

4. Eliminate Bias

When testing a hypothesis, scientists are taught to conduct experiments and research that are designed to minimize or eliminate any biases the scientist may have about the hypothesis. It’s important to do this as well when you are looking for solutions in your own personal issues. If you have an idea for a solution, and you want to test it first, you must figure out a way that eliminates any bias you have toward that solution before you can get any true results.

5. Constantly Ask Questions

One thing that curious young children always do with their parents is ask questions. “Why is the sky blue? Why does a dog bark? Why aren’t there any more dinosaurs?” Kids do this because they want to learn. Scientists also constantly ask questions. You have to continue asking questions yourself if you want to keep learning. It’s impossible to know what answers your looking for until you know what questions to ask.

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6. Collaborate With Others

Scientists rarely work alone. Even the greatest ones of all time, like Einstein, Galileo, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Nikola Tesla all collaborated with others on their work. If some of the most brilliant minds in all of history were willing to happily collaborate with others on their ideas, why shouldn’t you? Collaboration is the practice whereby individuals work together as a group with a common purpose to achieve a shared goal. Collaboration is how ideas are bounced off of other minds for feedback and suggestions.

7. Communicate Your Results

For scientists, it’s important to share the results of their findings. Scientists often find solutions after knowing the findings of other scientists’ experiments. In business, by sharing your results with your colleagues, you are helping to better your organization because others can use that information to improve their results.

If it’s a breakthrough discovery, your organization may want to issue a formal report or a press release. Either way, information is best when it’s shared with those who need to know.

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Featured photo credit: Mark Sebastian via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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