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Powerful Methods Of Practice You’ve Never Tried

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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 October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer 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.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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