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Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

You may be the type to constantly push yourself to stay on the cutting edge. You work out your mind and body everyday so you can get more from life and stay in the zone. But, with everything you do there’s still a little something missing. You may not know exactly know what “it” is, but you can feel it: The spark, the zest, the quick wit.

You probably know people who can flip the script of life on a moments notice. Now it’s time to cultivate these skills for yourself.

To some, cleverness means manipulation. Instead, we’re gonna reframe that expired meaning to mental flexibility and gut instinct.

The little known story of Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was a musical genius and constant innovator of his craft. A little known trait of his, however, was his quick, intuitive thinking.

One day a stranger showed up on Frank’s doorstep, waving a revolver and a bloody bag. As Frank reached for the bag, the man aimed a revolver at his chest.

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Without hesitation, and fueled by a brilliant impulse, he rallied everyone in the house to head outside to the lake, including the armed stranger. When they were all standing by the shore, he suggested that everyone start throwing things into the lake. The stranger threw his gun.

The secret to his success was his lightening-fast mental reflex; a muscle he had built up over many years.

A deeper dive into his mental life

Zappa’s success had to do with the way he perceived the world. As a naturally creative mind, he allowed his creative processing to seep into his life. Most people would see this situation and immediately react, either cowering in fear or reacting with anger; instead, Zappa saw the situation from multiple angles. Disarming the stranger would be his ultimate goal.

Through building your own creative muscle you can learn to process the world in this open ended manner. It takes time, but the exercises are simple and can potentially save your life.

Zappa also had a unique bond with his gut instinct that many of us take for granted. Granted as an innovative musician he had built up the ability to trust his gut, leading him towards new musical avenues. This connection with his intuition proved vital. It allowed him to turn his creative thinking into reality with lightening speed, bringing the situation under his control and saving his life.

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When you build a connection to your own intuitive muscle it might feel strange. After all you’re simply trusting in a feeling or a hunch, but over time you’ll become a master. Couple this intuitive trust with creative thinking and you’ll have lightening fast mental control over your life.

The Zappa Equation: Intuition + Creative Vision

To infuse your life with cleverness two elements need to be present:

1. Creative Vision

Having a creative view of the world is the ability to perceive multiple realities in one situation. It’s easier if you prep ahead of time, so you’re ready when life deals you a tough hand. To cultivate this gift try the following exercise:

Whenever an event just happened in your life, pause for reflection: maybe it’s a conversation with your boss, or a decision to take a trip to Europe. Use your imagination to come up with alternative ways it could have gone. Use the golden phrase “what if”. Get playful with it, this should be fun. You’re awakening your imagination with your creative juices.

By playing with different realities of a situation your brain will become used to applying this kind of daydream like thinking to everyday situations.

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For some it helps to keep a journal with you so you can jot down events and how they could have gone differently. After a while you’ll start to program your mind to see the world this way.

2. Intuition

A lot of us have an unhappy relationship with our intuition. Either it’s weakened to the point of decay or we confuse the feelings of our gut with anxiety or indigestion. We need to cultivate this bond with our inner guidance system so it can steer us in the right direction.

Imagine trying to navigate your way through a dense forest with a broken compass—you probably wont get very far.

Let’s get your compass in working order. Give this exercise a go:

Any time you walk into a room try and sense the overall feeling. Ask yourself: is there any negativity present? What about positivity?

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Give yourself permission to try and feel out the room with your intuition. It should only take a few seconds. After a couple of times you’ll have a better sense about the world around you and have the ability to feel into situations before they happen.

When can I use this?

All this is great but how does this translate to your daily life?

Your life is made up of moments. The greater mastery you have over these moments the more beauty you can inject into your life.

You’ll be like the artist at her canvas, using your cleverness as a brush to paint the life of your dreams. By experimenting with these simple cleverness practices you’ll develop a river of cleverness throughout your life. A set of tools that can be used on moments notice.

The tools are simple, and the results are profound.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Poet and Writer

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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