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If You Want To Be Smarter, You Need To Use This Phrase Carefully

If You Want To Be Smarter, You Need To Use This Phrase Carefully

Learning new things is one of the best ways to better ourselves and implement self-development and growth. But when you’re expanding your knowledge pool are you doing it as efficiently as possible?

How often do you come across an article, book or any kind of instruction tool that goes towards gaining better knowledge in the area you’re expanding your mind, and see the phrase “for example”? After all, examples are the best way to apply your new-found knowledge to a real-life scenario, helps connect the dots and makes things much clearer. Or do they?

Why “For Example” Isn’t As Helpful As You May Think

Don’t get me wrong, throwing examples into the mix can go a long way in spelling out what you’ve learned. Seeing a way that the fundamental theory can be applied practically helps the brain put it into context.

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However, this isn’t exactly the smartest way to do this and here’s why.

While “for example” creates a pathway in the brain to understand the concepts, it’s coming from the mind of somebody else. In other words, an example doesn’t really teach us the underlying mechanisms or allow us to come to our own conclusions. We may read the example and get the ‘light bulb’ moment but we tend to accept that one example instead of thinking up several more of our own.

Thinking up different, unique examples and even making them more applicable to yourself is much smarter than taking in analogies cooked up by someone else.

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Reasoning By Analogy Versus Reasoning By First Principles

There are two ways we can make decisions and come to conclusions; one is reasoning by analogy and the other is reasoning by first principles.

Reasoning by analogy is when we base our conclusions and decisions on pre-existing ideas. Examples that are fed to us only allow us to apply what we’ve learned to an already established idea and what others are telling you. However, this is how most people work – our mind often finds the easy way out by building on an idea that is already out there. As a result, we take on problem solving from a space of assumption rather than questioning.

Reasoning by first principles is something Elon Musk has been an advocate of and praises his success on. This is when you take the basis or fundamentals of what you’ve learned and come up with your own application. In other words, come up with your own ideas free from any of the pre-existing ideas and allows us to potentially see something in much finer detail.

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The Difficulty Of Putting Examples Into Practice

You could be given all the examples in the world, and while the writer or teacher is trying to be as helpful as he or she can, it’s not allowing you to easily put these into practice. For sure, it’s helping you to remember the concept but when it comes to applying it, you could become stuck pretty quickly undoing the work you’ve put in to thoroughly learn the subject.

To really understand the concept, come up with multiple examples that fit the rule to confirm in your mind that you have fully understood. In addition, don’t use “for example” when explaining things to others. Encourage them to think up examples of their own and watch how they begin to formulate the new ideas themselves.

So next time you come across “for example” when learning something new, take it onboard but be cautious with it. Make sure you think up different ways you can transfer it into different situations and see it form a new angle breaking free from limited, existed thinking.

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Featured photo credit: tookapic via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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