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What is Something Useful You can Learn in 10 minutes that Would be Useful for the Rest of Your Life?

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What is Something Useful You can Learn in 10 minutes that Would be Useful for the Rest of Your Life?

Here’s a great answer we found on Quora by Raj Rai who provides some valuable tips on learning something that would be useful for the rest of your life.

How to speed-read. Following along with your finger is excellent if you want to read a little faster, but speed-reading is a different ball game.

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Brief background: I learned how to speed-read after some googling. I did this search because I had AP Bio and AP Econ summer reading due in about 12 hours, I hadn’t even begun, and I did not want to spend 12 hours reading. I tried to find the page, and I’ll add it in as an edit if I can find it. I learned to speed read because of my own laziness, but on a bad day I read at least 5 or 6 times as fast as I used to.

Let’s start with basics.

Most people read word by word, and often say the words to themselves using the voices in their heads. Why do we do this? I fully blame kindergarten reading programs, which force children to read out loud both in class and at home. Who thought of this? Anyway, that is not at all the most effective way to read, in terms of both speed and comprehension. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is eliminate the voice inside your head. This took me at least 1 hour to do.

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Read with your eyes. ONLY.

Whatever you do don’t use the voice inside your head. As you learn to do this part go ahead and read word by word and go over the lines with your finger. Just work on eliminating the voice. Why? You cannot say words nearly as fast as you can comprehend them, believe it or not. Don’t limit your reading speed to your speaking speed. This process really sucks, by the way. If you really believe that the voice in your mind is your enemy, you will probably be extremely frustrated for the first half hour of your journey. You may get better, then get a snack, then come back to continue your training and realize you are back where you started. Feelings of hopelessness will arise. Be a man/woman, and push on.

A tip for those who are having trouble not subvocalizing is to hold your breath as you read. As Sean O’Connor pointed out, we breathe out as we read, even when we do so silently, since we’re used to speaking the words aloud. A lot of the time, you even notice yourself making movements with your mouth, though it’s closed. Hold your breath as you begin trying to eliminate subvocalization. Breathe in when you need to. (Don’t force discomfort or anything) Once you feel that you’ve effectively eliminated that voice, try to return to normal breathing. Remember to use breath-holding as a crutch whenever you are having trouble. It has no noticeable effect on your speed or comprehension, and it helps immensely when you are having a rough time.

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Once you are able to pretty much eliminate the voice inside your head, you have unlocked a huge amount of potential in terms of how fast you can now read. Since you’re reading with your eyes, try reading two or three words at a time, and then move up once you get comfortable. Trust me, if you don’t skip the voice elimination step, you will make progress fast. After a couple days I was reading pages out of an assigned novel within 15-20 seconds, the book was The Guide, and with full comprehension. I am not exaggerating. This is when I got really in the zone of course. Not having the initial tunnel vision can be frustrating but after about 10 minutes you get it down and you fly through pages. I was reading about a line at a time. One tip I have that helped me read more words at a time is to think about opening your eyes REALLY WIDE. Actively try to take in as many words at a time as you can and try to move along the lines as fast as you can while doing this. You’ll build your own rhythm eventually.

Hopefully this helps someone. It really helped me. I was able to finish estimated hour-long reading assignments in 10 minutes or less. I’m out practice right now, but I want to get back into it this summer so I can complete the books listed on the answer wiki for Books: What are some potentially life-changing books?

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P.S. Here’s a link (thanks Mike Stenhouse) that teaches you a lot of about speed-reading technique. The explanation it gives encompasses a lot of what I’ve said, and I found it pretty useful in cleaning up how I read and in increasing my reading ability generally: Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes

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Brian Lee

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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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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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