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Powerful Methods Of Practice You’ve Never Tried

Powerful Methods Of Practice You’ve Never Tried
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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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