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Last Updated on January 30, 2018

The Key to Einstein’s Genius

The Key to Einstein’s Genius

The key to Einstein’s genius is to learn how to stay with a question longer. Albert Einstein famously remarked,

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask for once I know the proper question I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.

Einstein also stated,

It’s not that I’m so smart but I stay with the questions much longer.

To stay with our questions longer, DSRP Thinkquiry Questions is a good way.

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What is DSRP Thinkquiry?

DRSP Thinkquiry is developed by Derek and Laura Cabrera – professors at Cornell University. It is a systems thinking approach to structure information and questions in a systematic way.[1] This approach applies simple rules underlying systems thinking. These simple rules are Distinctions – Systems – Relationships – Perspectives (DSRP).

DSRP ThinkQuiry Questions are the building blocks of cognition and are required to deconstruct a problem or issue. You can learn more about this approach and even use it online at www.thinkquiry.us. Furthermore, I encourage you to read more about Derek and Laura Cabrera’s work and two of their outstanding books – Systems Thinking Made Simple and Thinking at Every Desk.

Beyond the Socratic Method

    In Thinking at Every Desk, the Cabrera’s inform us that we should think of DSRP as guiding questions and as a new form of Socratic questioning for the 21st century. They found that the Socratic method of questioning leads students to a black and white view of the world, where DSRP questions lead students to see the infinite shades of gray that actually exist in the world.

    With DSRP Thinkquiry the Cabrera’s sought to provide us with a new way to ask different questions. Here is what they had to say. [2]

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    “We wanted to get people asking different kinds of questions. Questions that lead to new insights and answers but also more questions. Structural questions that can be mixed and matched to form even more complex questions that get at the essence of the wicked problems and complex systems around us.”

    Let’s now dive into DSRP Thinkquiry using a personal example of mine. I write extensively on the foster care system and have published numerous articles and a few books. Books such as Succeeding as a Foster Child a Workbook. I recently published an article on the Different Perspectives of the Foster Care System where I surveyed 243 individuals in order to identify their perspectives of the foster care system using DSRP as a framework and a guide to build better questions for the study.

    Additionally, I used the newest tool created by the Cabrera’s to finish the study – a powerful and free application located at https://kingfisher.link. It is essentially a virtual systems thinking whiteboard.

    Building Better Questions

    Starting with distinctions, let’s see how I was able to ask better questions using the foster care example.

    Distinctions

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      Guiding Questions:

      1. What is Foster Care?
      2. What is-not Foster Care?
      3. How would you distinguish between Foster Care and a similar thing – such as Adoption?
      4. Can you compare and contrast Foster Care and Adoption?

      Systems

        Guiding Questions:

        1. What are the parts of Foster Care?
        2. What is Foster Care a part of?
        3. Can you name some of the parts of the parts of Foster Care?
        4. What are the parts of the relationship between Foster Care and Adoption?
        5. What are the parts of Foster Care when looked at from the viewpoint of a Foster Parent?

        Relationships

          Guiding Questions:

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          1. What ideas are related to Foster Care and what ideas are related by Foster Care?
          2. What idea relates Foster Care and Adoption?
          3. How are the parts of Foster Care related?
          4. How are the parts of Foster Care related to the parts of Adoption?
          5. What are the relationships among Foster Care and Adoption and other things?

          Perspectives

            Here I will use perspectives uncovered during my survey discussed earlier.

            Guiding Questions:

            1. What are the parts of the viewpoint Foster Care when looking at challenges in foster care from multiple perspectives.
            2. How are Foster Care and Adoption related when looking at them from a new perspective – from the perspective of a Foster Child.
            3. Can you think of Foster Care from multiple perspectives?
            4. What are the parts of Foster Care when looked at from multiple viewpoints?

              The Cabrera’s have provided us an improved way to ask better questions. They have provided us, not only a way to stay with a question longer, but also a better way to build questions. I have personally found that by simply using DSRP Thinkquiry Questions, I am able to uncover new ideas that were not previously held in my mind. In fact, I call their systems thinking approach my “aha” or epiphany generator!

              To me, it’s as if the questions are Lego blocks in a random pile. DSRP Thinkquiry Questions are a way to see each block as a different question, where our job is to simply connect them.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

              Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind 10 Brain Training Hacks to Increase Your IQ, Focus and Creativity How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

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              Last Updated on July 19, 2018

              What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

              What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

              If you have so many things to do that you often find yourself struggling to finish projects and tasks and move on to other stuff, you’re certainly not alone. Studies show that over 20 percent of the adult population put off or avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions.[1]

              What about the rest of the population? What do they do to prevent procrastination?

              In this article, I am going to explain to you why procrastination is so difficult to beat and how you can stop procrastinating once and for all by following a step-by-step guide. But first, you need to understand how procrastination happens.

              What is procrastination

              Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines procrastination in this way:[2]

              “Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

              In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

              This comic is one of the typical examples of procrastination:

                Why stopping procrastination is difficult

                Human beings have limited self-control. Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist from Florida State University, has been studying self-control and he has found that just like any muscles, human’s self-control is a limited resource that can quickly become exhausted.[3] When self-control is close to being depleted, human tend to choose what’s more pleasurable– the immediate procrastinated tasks instead of the actual works.

                At its core, procrastination is an avoidance strategy. Procrastinators choose to do something else instead of doing what they need to do because it’s much easier to choose pleasure over pain.

                In short, procrastination is so difficult to beat because it is a battle against human’s natural enemy, a human weakness that is in-born.

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                A step-by-step guide to stop procrastinating

                Despite the fact that it’s human nature to seek for immediate rewards and procrastinate, here I have a step-by-step guide for you to follow so as to stop procrastinating.

                1. Identify your triggers: the 5 types of procrastinator

                Identifying the type of procrastination you personally experience is an essential step for you to fix the problem at its root.

                Take a look at this flowchart here to find out what type of procrastinator you are:

                  Which type of procrastinator are you? Let’s take a look at the triggers for your procrastination type:

                  Perfectionist

                  Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want. But often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to complete things, as they’re forever seeking the perfect timing or approach. Tasks end up never being completed, because in the eyes of the perfectionist, things are never perfect enough.

                  Instead of finishing something, perfectionists get caught up in a never-ending cycle of additions, edits, and deletions.

                  Ostrich

                  An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, or deal with any negativity or stress.

                  Dreaming gives this type of people a false sense of achievement, as in their minds, they envision big, ambitious plans. Unfortunately for them, these plans will most likely stay as dreams, and they’ll never accomplish anything truly worthwhile.

                  Self-saboteur

                  A self-saboteur has bought into the line that ‘by doing nothing, bad things won’t happen.’

                  In reality, self-saboteurs have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. Their way to avoid these mishaps, is to do nothing at all. In the end, they may make few mistakes – but they also see few accomplishments.

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                  Daredevil

                  Daredevils are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work – they prefer to enjoy time doing their own thing before the deadline comes around.

                  It’s most likely an unconscious thing, but daredevils evidently believe that starting early will sacrifice their time for pleasure. This is reinforced in their minds and feelings, by the many times they manage to get away with burning the midnight oil. Often they sacrifice the quality of their work because of rushing it.

                  Chicken

                  Chickens lack the ability to prioritize their work. They do what they feel like they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.

                  Prioritizing tasks is a step that takes extra time, so chicken will feel it’s not worth it. Because of this, they usually end up doing a lot of effortless tasks that don’t contribute much to a project. They’re incessantly busy on low-impact tasks, but seem oblivious to urgent, high-impact tasks.

                  2. Face your triggers and get rid of them

                  Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive by eliminating your procrastination triggers.

                  For Perfectionists, re-clarify your goals.

                  Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.

                  Take time out to regroup and ask yourself what you really want to achieve:

                  • What steps do you need to take?
                  • Is what you’re currently doing reflecting what you want?
                  • What do you need to change?

                  Write things down, scribble them out and rewrite.

                  For Ostriches, do the difficult tasks first.

                  Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.

                  If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.

                  Finishing lots of simple tasks at the beginning of the day such as reading all the new emails only gives you a false sense of being productive.

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                  For Self-saboteurs, write out a to-do (and a not–to-do) list each day.

                  Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done.

                  Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid. By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.

                  Remember, think how satisfying and productive it feels to cross of a completed task.

                  For Daredevils, create a timeline with deadlines.

                  It’s common to have a deadline for a goal which seems like a good idea. But this is basically an open invitation for procrastination.

                  If it’s a self-created deadline with no pressure, we tend to justify pushing it back each time it comes into sight and feel we haven’t yet done ‘enough’ to get there.

                  Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.

                  For Chickens, break tasks into bite-sized pieces.

                  A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts.

                  If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction.

                  Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.

                  3. Take planned breaks

                  The human brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination.

                  Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.

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                  A break as short as 5 minutes is enough to keep your mind sharp and wards off fatigue. I recommend you to use the Pomodoro Time Tracker. It is a great tool to help you take breaks at set intervals. Simply start the 25-minute timer, and follow the prompts.

                    4.  Reward yourself

                    It’s important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.

                    Make your reward proportional to the task you completed so getting a bite-sized task done gets you a cup of your favourite coffee or snack. Then plan a weekend away or fun activity for the bigger stuff.

                    Personally I try to make staying focus more fun by using the app Forest. It turns productivity into a game. In the game, you can plant a virtual tree at the beginning of your work time. If you maintain focus for the duration of the timer, you’ll grow a tree to add to your forest. It’s rewarding when you can eventually grow a forest.

                      5. Keep track of your time in a smart way

                      If you want to prevent the bad habit of procrastination from coming back, keep track of the time you spend every day.

                      By having a clear idea of where you spend your time, you can always review your productivity and know which areas to improve.

                      It’s not easy to keep track of every minute you spend throughout the day so I recommend you to use the app Rescue Time.

                      It gets you a categorized breakdown of how you spend your time and helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task. You can even label activities as productive and non-productive so as to block your biggest distractions.

                        Make procrastination under your control

                        Procrastination exists for many reasons and only you know for yourself what these triggers are.

                        Understanding what procrastination really is and the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way and help you start the productivity momentum.

                        Reference

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