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Powerful Methods Of Practice You’ve Never Tried

Powerful Methods Of Practice You’ve Never Tried

The path to mastery is slow and arduous. You will find many reasons to give up, and everybody expects you to. After all, Malcolm Gladwell did say that you needed to practice 10,000 hours to reach mastery.

But, one of the worst feelings is to get stuck and to not know what to do to move forward… even if you keep practicing. This quote sums up why you can’t move forward:

“Insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

If you have this feeling, use these scientifically proven techniques below to overcome your temporary plateau. Those techniques work for any type of topic, whether it is sport, music or academic subjects.

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Practice less, practice better

If you are stuck, chances are that you are not using “deliberate practice”. Recent studies have proven that the quantity of practice does not matter as much as the quality.

What made the difference for piano players in the study, was there willingness to locate the source of their mistakes and relentlessly addressing them.

It’s not a “fun” method per say, as it puts you in a state of strain rather than a state of flow but it will pay off.

Exaggerate

When you’re trying to learn something new, you need to exaggerate its distinctiveness in your mind. Your brain will remember it more easily. The use of caricatures in theoretical learning has proven to yield significant recall.

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Another example is language learning. It is a very common issue for people to pick up a new accent. Every change feels so weird to them, that they don’t dare to exaggerate. That’s why, it is important to exaggerate willingly to know how much is too much. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck doing minor progress that feels huge only for you.

Pretend

When you start learning something new, practicing is difficult. It’s quite disheartening. You see, that many people who are excellent at what you want to do, but somehow, you seem to continually suck at it.

A solution which is backed by science: Pretend to be them!

Pretend to be a superstar at what you’re trying to learn. Then the mental locks will go away and let you practice more serenely. Don’t hesitate to even mimic their ways of talking or walking, just so that your mind is completely fooled. You are the superstar.

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Visualize

Visualization and mental rehearsal are great ways of practicing to reach the next level.

As athletes are closing their eyes and “seeing” the vivid imagery of their success in the next game, their confidence level improves as “success” is already part of their reality.

Studies show that simply visualizing yourself training to do a specific move over and over helps to train the dedicated neural pathway… without the risk of physical exhaustion or straining your muscles.

Take breaks

Sometimes the best way of practicing is not to practice, shows science. Our body has limited stamina and even the best brain needs some time to consolidate new information.

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Those breaks are a great time to reflect on the current state of your practice. If the breaks are disruptive and are dedicated to other non-related activities (social networks and other distractions), then those breaks won’t help you improve the results of your practice.

Do group practice

Practicing with other people is fantastic. Although it’s common in team sports, you have many benefits in organizing group practice:

  1. It’s a commitment device. If you tell other people to meet at the library to study, you will be a lot more likely to show up on time instead of watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones than if it would just be you.
  2. You can learn from other people’s experience and perspective. Multiple views of the same subject will make it more vivid for you.
  3. Teaching other people will force you to simplify and rethink what you thought you knew

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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