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Game Show Time Management

Game Show Time Management

I’ve got it! This came to me on the ride to work this morning. We have systems for executing our tasks. We have Getting Things Done, which tells us to sweep our heads, capture the details, do our work in the right contexts, and keep the flow going. And I always say that what we need over this is a framework, to help direct our thoughts and mindset towards what matters most to us. 7 Habits, for example, tells us to organize and execute around our priorities. Use Covey’s methods to get your priorities straight. Use Allen’s methods to execute properly. It’s perfect in the larger picture stuff.

But what about those tasks where all things are equal? Maybe they all matter equally, all need to be done, and all meet the same context requirements. What to do? What to do?

Game Show Time Management

The part of the game show we’re going to consider is the lightning round. Near the end of various game shows is that spot where the contestants are thrown a bunch of questions, and they have to answer them in rapid succession. The pressure of speed makes for better tension, and that’s why they do it on TV. But here’s the part we should steal.

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“Pass.”

Abe Lincoln was shot in which theater? …. Pass! Michael Jackson wore his glove on which hand? Right! Abe Lincoln

Task Pass

Take your list of priorities, and the tasks assigned to a certain context, and put them in your own personal lightning round:

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  • Copy a new WordPress install
  • Build header art – PASS
  • Burn new FeedBurner feed
  • Edit WordPress install – PASS
  • Build MySQL database
  • Build header art

Now, there are some ways to implement that technically. You could set the task to recur. (Can you set a task to recur faster than daily? You must, right?). You can throw nag SMS at your cell phone for the ones you are most likely to let slip by passing too many times.

Maybe it’d be great to implement a “3 Pass” rule. You can’t pass more than three times. That way, procrastination-only passing will be shoved away.

Scoreboard

Lots of people like to keep tabs on how they do with their tasks. Sometimes, we do this by leaving completed tasks on the list for a while with a strikethrough. What if you threw scoring against it? What if you decided that completing a task with only 1 pass is worth more than completing a task with 2 passes? Would it change your behavior?

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Lightning Round

I’ve spoken about Time Quilting before, as a means to finding usable time by sewing together scraps of time from various parts of our day. Parents do this well, snagging a few minutes while your son is taking a nap, and another ten minutes while they finish their couscous and lentils. This ties well into the Game Show Time Management premise. If you’ve got 10 minutes to do something, you’ve just set up your own personal Lightning Round right then and there. See how much you can get accomplished in the brief time provided. Pass on things that seem likely to scuttle the ship, and set those for time frames when you can really get at the problem.

I think this will help you develop a better landscape of time. You’ll understand when you consistenly get a few hours uninterrupted. (If you know where this time is, protect it like it’s GOLD, because it’s worth more than that). You’ll also learn how to better instrument your time for those moments that used to be for throw-away tasks. Reading a magazine is a great way to unwind, and occasionally provides you with some insights, but what if you converted that time into four more things you said you wanted to get done, but that were too insignificant to schedule?

Put This Into Action

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Take the following concepts and try overlaying your current productivity system for a week:

  • In same context situations, rapid-fire review your tasks as a lightning round, and see which you choose to execute. Count up passes.
  • When executing a task and completing it, mark 0, 1, 2 for how many times you Passed before you executed it. If there’s a 3, review.
  • Turn 20 minute scraps of time into lightning rounds. See how many tasks you accomplish. (Similar to Merlin’s dash concept).
  • Scoring: Give yourself 10 points for every task completed at 0, 5 points for 1, and 3 points for 2. Subtract 10 for anomalies (more than 3 passes).
  • At your weekly review, consider how you used your Lightning Rounds, consider your scoring, and see if this changes how you execute your priorities.

Your Feedback

This is just a premise. I haven’t tried it yet myself (but plan to launch a trial starting Monday). I’d love your feedback. Please send in comments on the premise as you understand it, and then, as things move forward, please give feedback (I’ll do a check-in post in about a week) on if it worked for you, or what side-effects you encoutered.

It might prove to be neat.

–Chris Brogan needs a perfect blend of simple interface but flexible-for-multitaskers web-based time/project/task software, keyboard heavy preferred. Have a suggestion? Let him know. Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and is launching an audio and video podcasting production company at Grasshopper New Media.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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