Mental Heuristics

mental heu

A heuristic is a “rule-of-thumb”, advice that helps an Artificial Intelligent program or human think and act more efficiently by directing thinking in an useful direction.

Some of these heuristics are age-old wisdom, bordering on cliche, but most are actually helpful.


If you want something done, do it yourself

Comment: Obviously true, and doing it is usually very good for your self esteem. A surprising amount of work can be done this way, and experts are not always necessary. However, there is a risk of becoming overworked if you try to do everything yourself – we all need other people after all.


Never procrastinate anything you can do right now

Comment: Very powerful. There are many things that can be fixed or solved with a minimum of effort, but are often pushed aside as unimportant. Unfortunately they won’t go away, and in time the feelings of guilt for not having done them will make you even less likely of fixing the problems.


When you have several things you could be doing and don’t know which to do: Just do any one of them!

Comments: If you cannot decide between two or more possibilities, then there is a good chance that the differences don’t matter. However, most people begin to hesitate in this kind of situation (Fredkin’s paradox). If you are conscious of this, you can just choose one choice randomly or according to some standard method.


Always assume that you will succeed

Comments: If you don’t expect to succeed in an endeavor, then you will not do your best and will not notice possible solutions, while if you feel that you will eventually succeed you will concentrate all your power at the problem. Of course, there is no point in attempting what you cannot do, a certain amount of self-knowledge is always needed.


If you can’t find a solution, change the rules.

Comment: Remember that there are no no-win scenarios.


If you cannot do anything about something, there is no point in worrying about it.

Comment: Worrying is stressful, and in most situations doesn’t accomplish anything – it just wastes energy. Instead of worrying about things, either do something about them or find ways around the problem. One useful idea is to write down your worries on slips of paper, and then put them away in a box. Regularly, once a week or so, you open the box and see what you can do about the worries that are still relevant.


Do not rely on conscious decisions for speed – Just Do It

Comments: The conscious mind is surprisingly slow, conscious choices and actions are delayed for a significant time (a reflex acts within some tens of milliseconds, an unconscious reaction to external stimuli circa 100 milliseconds and a conscious choice several seconds). The duty of the conscious mind is usually to inhibit rather than start action, and if you become too conscious of what you are doing in a tense situation you will hesitate or slow down.

It is a good idea to learn to rely on your non-conscious mind, since our conscious mind is slow and has very low bandwidth while the other systems in our brains have a tremendous capacity and actually do most of the real work anyway.


Don’t try to explain away your actions for yourself

Comment: While we often do things we do not want to explain our real motivations for before other people (out of fear of embarrassment, anger or loss of image), it is a bad idea to try to convince oneself that the motivation was anything different from what it was. It will only reduce your self-knowledge with deliberate misinformation, and it is often valuable to understand what motivations you have (even if you dislike them or would never admit them in public).


Listen to your intuition, but do not believe it unconditionally

Comments: Intuitive or emotional thinking, analogies, “gut feelings” or “flashes of inspiration” can sometimes give fantastic new insights or show problems from a new direction. Unfortunately such thinking isn’t always reliable, and quite often completely wrong! Such insights should never be accepted because you admire their beauty or they are intuitive, only because they fit with reality.


10 Life Decisions You Will Regret Making

regrets

1. Dwelling on one person too much. People change and they always disappoint. Never put anyone on a pedestal.

2. Not taking better care of your teeth. A little bit of maintenance every day prevents a ton of maintenance down the road.

3. Not wearing sunscreen. You don’t want to look like a worn leather bag when you are older.

4. Drinking and driving. It’s a stupid and selfish decision that will cost you and others.

5. Not apologizing. Arguments happen, but don’t let them ruin lifelong friendships.

6. Charging that big purchase to your credit card. You tell yourself you can pay it off in three months, but then another purchase happens, and then another. Then your car suddenly has engine trouble. Suddenly, you are in so much debt you don’t know what to do.

7. Smoking that first cigarette. Once you start, you cannot stop until it is too late.

8. Not taking a chance. Ask that girl out. Apply for that job you think you are underqualified for.

9. Forcing a long distance relationship. You could be spending a lot of time waiting for someone who is ready to move on.

10. Rushing marriage. You’re young, everything is fun, and marriage seems like the next logical step. Take a step back and wait. Marriage will always be an option, and divorce is a process you don’t want to experience.

 

 

Written by Johnny Webber

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17 Small Things To Do Every Day To Be Much Smarter

smarter

Intelligence is flexible and there are a lot of things to give it a daily boost. For smart thinking your mind needs 3 things:

  1. To be trained in thinking processes
  2. To have plenty of information
  3. To focus on a problem or idea

For example, Thomas Edison was able to think of his light bulb because:

  1. He was a trained logical thinker
  2. He knew a lot about electrical engineering
  3. He focused on solving a problem

Here are a bunch of things to do every day to help your mind to think smart.

1. Drink 2 glasses of water within 30 minutes of waking up

Since you’ve been asleep for hours, your body has not gotten water for 6-9 hours. Water is needed for the filtration of waste products and fluid balance. Two big glasses of water offset the fluid deficit you had from sleeping. Studies on kids (study 1, study 2) show that drinking more water increases their ability to complete mental tasks. Make sure your brain is not dehydrated at the beginning of the day already.

2. Read a book summary during breakfast

Reading books is great, but breakfast is far more suitable for something shorter. Instead of reading news articles that have little impact on your life/intelligence, read best selling book summaries. You can find summaries by:

  • Googling your book title + summary, for example “7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary”
  • Use a summary subscription like Blinkist or getAbstract

3. Listen to stimulating podcasts/audiobooks during your commute

Even if you spend only 10 minutes on your bike like I do, load your phone up with intellectually stimulating audio. Good sources could be:

  • TED talks (their app lets you pre-download audio so you don’t eat your mobile data)
  • Blinkist has some of their summaries in audio form
  • Audiobooks you purchased
  • Podcast of your favorite authors

4. Drink green tea while working

Where caffeine makes many people anxious, green tea (especially Matcha tea) contains l-theanine. This aminoacid causes an increase in alpha brain waves in the brain:1-s2.0-S0924224499000448-gr3In practice this means that where coffee can induce anxiety, high quality green teas cause a relaxed focus without inducing sleepiness. This is also why l-theanine is available as a supplement to aid in relaxation and increasing cardiovascular health.

5. Take naps during the day

Napping helps your mind refresh. It’s been shown that napping during learning increases learning speed. Your mind has a rhythm that determines when it gets sleepy and when it needs sleep:Daily-Rhythm-Sleep-Wake-CycleAs you can see on average people feel more sleepy than usual between noon and 4 PM. This is a perfect time to have a nap, and will increase your alertness and productivity for the rest of the day. Personally I’ve has good results with post-workday naps too (around 6 PM).

6. Don’t take sugar during the day

In fact, if you can cut it altogether. But if you can’t for whatever reason, just make sure not to have it during times where you need to focus. Sugar highs and the following lows are not good to keep your brain functioning smartly. What does work very well are fatty acids. Try to switch any sweet stuff during lunch for something more substantial like fish or eggs.

7. Do social media / meme websites only a couple of times a day

The brain adapts to the information you throw at it. If you bombard it work non-stimulating and fast switching information your focus will get destroyed. Keep your brain functioning on a higher level by throwing stimulating things at it. If you feel the need to procrastinate, set a timer  and don’t get lost in mindlessly scrolling.

8. Play games instead of watching series or movies

Watching tv is a passive activity. Your brain is consuming information, but not processing or interacting with it. Substitute or supplement this entertainment with gaming. A 2014 study showed that even a simple game like Super Mario has visible impact on brain plasticity (flexibility). Another piece of research covered by Forbes shows the same. Actively engage your brain where you can, instead of letting it slumber passively.

9. Read a book instead of watching tv

Similar to playing games instead of watching tv, reading a book is an active exercise for the brain. Where watching video entertainment is a passive consumption of information, reading a book requires your brain to actively construct mental images of what you are reading.

10. Do some programming

Programming is a great way to learn to think logically and in patterns. Coding used to be hard to learn but with free websites like Codeacademy and free/paid platforms like Udemy it is easy and fun to learn. Consider it the next level of puzzles. As an added advantage learning to code in your free time increases your employability in the job market.

11. Watch TED talks while cooking

Preparing dinner is a great time to catch up on some cutting edge developments in Technology, Education and Design (ted.com). It turns what would otherwise be downtime into a fascinating and stimulating block of time. It’s like watching the news, only you are watching the world’s most inspiring individuals talk about their work.

12. Do some simple exercises during the day

The body and the mind are strongly connected. Physical fitness helps the brain function well. You don’t however have to go to the gym every day to benefit from this (though you can of course). Doing some push-ups throughout the day and walking or skipping up some stairs has a great impact already. Try to do something physical every hour or so, even if it’s just getting up, stretching a little and tensing all your muscles as hard as you can for 5-10 seconds.

13. Spend time with someone smarter than you

Habits are socially contagious. It is a well known fact in science that obesity for example spreads through social networks (link to research). The habits and thinking patterns of those you spend time with rub off on you. Expose yourself to people who are smarter than you in order to benefit from them.

14. Talk to people who disagree with you

Get into (friendly) discussions with people who disagree with you on any topic. Arguing with them allows you to either:

  • Sharpen your arguments
  • Be convinced that you are wrong

In both cases you win. In the first you convince the other person by out reasoning them, and I the second false logic you previously had is not eliminated.

15. Go for a walk in nature

Walking through nature has a number of benefits:

  • There is more oxygen since plants produce it
  • The human mind calms down when surrounded by plants
  • Walking helps your blood circulation

Having a walk in a park at lunch time can greatly help you work smartly for the rest of the day.

16. Carry a notepad

Great minds like Leonardo Da Vinci always carries a notepad. They used it to jot down ideas, sketches and questions they had for later review. Having a little book on you and writing down interesting things can greatly help you train your curiosity and logical thinking.

17. Take 10 minutes at the end of the day to plan tomorrow

By planning tomorrow the day before you begin the day with a plan. This allows you to work much more productively. Many people are busy all day, but not actually productive. A great part of being smart is knowing that hard work is inferior to smart work. Pick your battles in advance.

Written by: Mentor Palokaj
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5 Habits of Truly Amazing Communicators

Communication

When it comes to job coaching, almost every conversation I have with a client involves the topic of communication. The motives can vary widely: Some people want to be more assertive, others need help with conflict management, and still others find it hard to speak their minds in a group setting.

As I reflect on all the conversations I have, I realize that most of the time, we’re not talking about complex ideas. It’s really the basics about workplace communication that seem to trip most people up.

So, since we could all use a good reminder, here are the top five things I help my clients with when it comes to communication. Identify the ones that you need to work on, and start moving them into your conversation skill set today.

1. Stop Saying “But” and Start Saying “And”

Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, “I love that idea, but we need to do it differently?”

As soon as you say the word “but,” the other person immediately forgets the part about you loving the idea. Because you completely invalidated it with the “but” and everything that came after it.

Instead, use “and:” “I love that idea, and I think a slightly different approach would be most effective.”

Hear the difference?

In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey breaks down the rules of improv. One of those rules is to always say “yes, and….” This shows respect for what your partner has to say (even if you don’t agree), helps you keep an open mind about the act, and invites you to contribute to the conversation by building on the other person’s idea or adding your own ideas. Same goes for communicating at work.

2. Stick With the Facts

Often, I’ll hear someone make a statement that most likely isn’t rooted in fact—like, “She’s out to get me,” “My boss hates me,” or “I know she’s sorry she hired me.”

I always respond with a few questions: “Is that a fact? Did she tell you that, or are you drawing a conclusion based on observations?”

Communicating effectively is difficult enough; don’t add to it by making up stories that aren’t based in reality. Good communicators stay rooted in facts.

Remember that the facts of any issue could be quite different from your perception of it. Maybe the way you see a situation has to do with your unique work style, or simply that your boss is totally stressed out and taking it out on you. No matter what, unless you have the facts, it’s best to refrain from color commentary and focus on getting to the root of the issue.

3. Avoid “Position Defending”

When people cite communication issues in the workplace, it’s often less about communication and more about defending their position.

For example, let’s say that two co-workers, Megan and Jason, are discussing a project. Megan says, “This project is overwhelming the team; we need more help.” Jason says, “We’ll be able to handle it. Everyone will just have to put in some extra hours.”

Instead of having a meaningful dialogue about what defines each of their observations, Megan gets frustrated because Jason “isn’t hearing her.” And Jason thinks Megan sounds like a broken record, going on about how overwhelmed she is.

That’s not communication. That’s position defending.

Great communicators, on the other hand, ask questions and strive to understand all sides of the issue—instead of constantly repeating their side of the story.

For example, Jason might say, “What parts of the project are overwhelming to you?” or, “Tell me more about what you’re seeing as the bottlenecks.”

And Megan might say, “It sounds like we have completely different views on the project. I’m wondering if additional hours will really solve the problems I see,” or “Should we review the scope of the project and make sure the additional hours are realistic for the resources we have?”

Do you see how simply exploring others’ ideas can help you rise above your frustration and get you to higher ground?

In the iconic tome The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey espoused, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We should all be willing to understand the other as much as we want our own point of view to be understood.

4. Use Silence as Strategically as You Use Words

Many conversations become unproductive because the participants are too busy worrying about what to say next to really listen to each other. To remedy this,strive to take advantage of moments of silence.

While you may think that silence is negative or uncomfortable, it serves conversation by allowing listeners time to process what’s been said and giving speakers time to organize their thoughts before responding—without feeling rushed.

So, the next time you’re in a dialogue and it deserves your full attention, find an opportunity to practice silence. Spend a few extra moments absorbing what’s been said and intentionally thinking through your response before you speak. Learn to value and leverage those moments of silence instead of fearing them—as a way to build a better dialogue.

5. Actively Engage the Other Point of View

When a U.S. college student recently returned from an internship with a major hotel chain in the U.K., I asked him what the most challenging part was.

He responded that he was surprised by the tremendous diversity in the workplacein the U.K. Every person seemed to have come from a different country and spoke with a different dialect.

The biggest challenge, he said, was communicating with his co-workers in a way in which they could truly understand him. To do that, he had to get a sense of where they came from, how well they spoke English, and their assigned job. And typically, that was different for each and every person.

What a great example of high performance communication!

For people to really hear you—and you to hear them—you need to understand that everyone carries filters, beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and cultural influences that shape their point of view. The most difficult part? You can’t physically see any of these things.

In short, just because you say something, it doesn’t mean that others hear you. Great communicators take time to understand where others are coming from, whether it’s influenced by cultural, professional, or personal factors. Once you understand those differences, you can communicate in a way that enhances your ability to be heard.

Great communicators may be born—but (er, and) they’re also made. Try using at least one of these strategies this week, and see how you can up your communication effectiveness. Your colleagues will notice, and you’ll find new confidence and level of satisfaction in your work.

Source: TheMuse
Written by: Lea McLeod