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Is Planning a Kind of Guessing?

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Is Planning a Kind of Guessing?

What happens before you have a big test? Someone usually asks you if you have a study plan.

What happens when you graduate from one school? Someone will want to know your plan moving forward.

At work, on a new project, bosses often want to hear about the task plan.

To many, the idea of planning is almost a superpower — it’s a concrete path to success. Without a plan, you can’t do anything.

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To an extent, this is true. But in reality, a plan is actually no more than guessing. It’s not that concrete. There’s no guarantee of success. Hundreds of plans concocted every day fail (if not millions). While planning does give you a glimpse of the future, how we think about it is misguided. We view it as a GPS that can guide you anywhere. In reality, it’s a GPS that sometimes fails to work or give you completely accurate directions.

    Sticking to the Plan Can Be Bad

    Plans reduce panic. This is a key point. All human beings have fear of uncertainty, even though uncertainty is essentially normative. When you have to do something you’re unsure of, your body reacts: sweaty palms and shortness of breath. Having a plan gives us more certainty and makes us panic less. Imagine driving in a new area. You’re nervous, and may be lost. Your friend has a GPS, though! That’s a plan. It is a direction. It will list the steps you need to reach where you’re going. Less panic.

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      Planning is good — but aiming to always stick to the plan is bad. As President Eisenhower said during his military days,

      I’ve always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

      Now think of the same situation in a car. If you’re driving from New York to Philadelphia, most people would go on Interstate 95 South. That’s the plan. But what if, on this day, there is an overturned truck in the middle of I-95? Now you need a new plan. You need to use surface roads or other routes. The plan has to change because of conditions.

      A Plan Can Become an Illusion

      To reduce uncertainties, we worry too much about covering all the bases. We then lack action around how things actually go.

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      There will always be a gap between the ideal world and reality — when we over-commit to the plan, it restricts the way we can solve the problem and neglects other possibilities. If the plan is bigger than you, you won’t be able to deviate from it and make the best decisions in an unexpected situation.

      Think again about GPS. Some faulty GPS devices will literally tell you to drive on water. That’s currently impossible unless you have a Hovercraft. So if you follow the GPS above all, you might drive your car into the sea.

        Planning is essentially guesswork

        Don’t get obsessed with your plan. Blindly following a plan that has a limited relationship with reality will only make things worse.

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        Think about jazz musicians. They perform with a plan, but also go with the flow. It’s very spontaneous and improvised by the end. It’s the same with comedy or other forms of performance art. A comedian begins his set with a plan of jokes, and the order of jokes, but you need to respond to the audience. Maybe you get heckled. Maybe one set of jokes isn’t working. You need to adjust the plan.

        Now back to that GPS example, what if your friend finds a bridge far away that can cross the water? Perfect. It wasn’t part of the original plan (which was a guess, honestly), but now you have a way to cross the water in your car.

          Improvise Like a Jazz Musician

          Planning isn’t the only way to success. Rather, a plan must be reviewed continually. Review the plan to see if it aligns with the challenges faced in reality. Don’t let a plan confine you from making decisions on what’s best for the situation. Follow the base in the plan, but improvise along the way when facing different situations.

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          Especially in work contexts, we tend to think planning is the be-all and end-all. We have yearly plans, strategic plans, etc. But work conditions change all the time: employees leave, new bosses are promoted, the market you compete in shifts, etc. What then? The plan needs to change. It happens at the personal level all the time too. Don’t let the plan be everything. Be prepared to improvise. We’re all jazz musicians in a way.

          Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

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          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on June 1, 2021

          10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

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          10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

          The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

          If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

          The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

          1. Analyze Your Learning Style

          Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

          Is your memory associated to sound?

          Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

          If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

          Do you relate information to visual content?

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          If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

          Are you a physical learner?

          If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

          A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

          2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

          Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

          One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

          • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
          • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
          • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
          • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
          • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
          • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
          • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

          3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

          Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

          One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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          4. Get Some Exercise

          You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

          Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

          If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

          5. Work on the Ambiance

          If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

          If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

          6. Take a Lot of Notes

          Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

          This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

          Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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          Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

          7. Make Mind Maps

          Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

          You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

          Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

          Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

          8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

          Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

          However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

          Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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          9. Find the Right Context

          Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

          Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

          The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

          With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

          10. Study Every Day

          It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

          The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

          If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

          More to Help You Learn Quicker

          Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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