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What Do the Best Thinkers Have in Common?

What Do the Best Thinkers Have in Common?

The best thinkers share a lot of common traits. Beyond just a high IQ, however, they have a number of attitudes and philosophies in common that propel them to have some of the strongest thinking skills in the world. Here are eight of the most popular traits of the best thinkers.

1. The Best Thinkers Are Curious, Like Albert Einstein

The people with the strongest thinking skills are the ones who regularly ask, “What if … ?” Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” He recognized how important it is to constantly be questioning the world around you. Do you?

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2. The Best Thinkers Are Adventurous, Like Jeff Bezos

People with great thinking skills are the type to take a unique kind of action. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has ventured into completely alien industries like mass shipping, groceries, e-books, phones and tablets, all for a business that started out as just an online bookseller. Keep in mind that those with great thinking skills aren’t content with sticking to the status quo.

3. The Best Thinkers Look to Clarify, Like Steve Jobs

Simple is better. That’s an almost universal rule. Something you can sum up in a sentence is generally far superior than something you need a paragraph to explain. Steve Jobs understood this, and his thinking skills allowed Apple to become a major player in the tech world. His focus on simplicity in design was a major factor in selling products like the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad and making operating systems like iOS and OS X such a success.

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4. The Best Thinkers Are Strategic, Like Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg, love him or hate him, redefined the social media industry with Facebook. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all the other social networks that followed Facebook benefited greatly from the path he carved. His strategic implementation of the groundwork for current day social media should be admired or even envied.

5. The Best Thinkers Don’t Back Down, Like Galileo

The people with the most impressive thinking skills don’t give up even when everyone or everything is against them. Sixteenth-century scientist Galileo was imprisoned for his insistence that Earth is not the center of the universe. How far will you go to stand up for your beliefs?

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6. The Best Thinkers Are Self-Aware, Like Amy Schumer

Comedian Amy Schumer regularly plays with the perceptions other people have of her. In her stand-up and on her sketch show Inside Amy Schumer, she comments on her appearance and attitude with a level of self-awareness that few can achieve. Her thinking skills are impressive because she can recognize how others see her, and plays with that perception for the sake of comedy.

7. The Best Thinkers Are Reflective, Like Warren Buffett

The best thinking skills come from the types of people who look at the past to try to predict the future. Warren Buffett, an investor renowned for his smart business sense and thinking skills, regularly studies companies that were on top years ago and tracks them to the present. That way he can identify trends, see how industry changes affect certain businesses and find out why some companies remain successful while others falter. The past is a wonderful cheat sheet for the future, and people with great thinking skills like Warren Buffett know to study up.

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8. The Best Thinkers Diversify, Like Donald Glover

People with great thinking skills recognize that to accomplish something meaningful, they have to have a finger in many pies. If they constrain themselves to one activity they’re greatly limiting their potential. Donald Glover began his career as a writer for the sitcom 30 Rock, but he didn’t want to be confined to one art form, so he went on to take a prominent role in the TV show Community and have a successful career as rapper Childish Gambino. If you have good thinking skills you probably recognize that not reaching to new heights will keep you stuck on the ground floor.

Featured photo credit: Billy Hathorn via en.wikipedia.org

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

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

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

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 Making 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

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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