Force Yourself to Slow Down

Force Yourself to Slow Down

Give yourself monthly or daily challenges to form a new habit of observation.

Ideas could include trying new foods weekly and writing about them, noticing the color of a co-worker's shirt every day, or even just looking at a new piece of art closely once a day.

The idea is to gradually teach yourself to notice small details in your environment and daily life. 

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Problem Solving

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<b>Observing people and situat...
Observing people and situations is an incredibly valuable tool. 

It gives you the ability to notice subtle cues during conversations, job interviews, presentations, and anywhere else so you can react to situations more tactfully.

Increase Your Powers of Observation

Learn how to notice small details.

It's not a superhuman ability. It's important to note when talking about Holmes that he has spent a lifetime cultivating the habits of mindfulness. So it's not like he was just born with this ability to be in touch with the world. What we choose to notice or not notice is a way of framing it in our own mind. We have a lot of bad habits in our mind, and we have to retrain ourselves to really notice the world. Everything we do rewires the brain, but we can rewire it in a way that mindfulness eventually becomes less of an effort. -- Konnikova
Take Field Notes to Focus Your Attentions

If you're really struggling to pay attention and personal challenges aren't working, try field notes: writing descriptions and drawing pictures of what you see.

If you're at work, dedicate 10 minutes to observing one person's behavior. Jot it down on paper.

This will help you to start paying attention to the tiny details.

Briefly Meditate Daily

Meditation is all about teaching yourself focus.

There's this whole area of mindfulness training that teaches you to pay attention to yourself and what's going through your head more. ... just taking a couple minutes at your desk. -- Konnikova
Learn to Critically Analyze Everything

Critical thinking is analyzing what you observe closely, and deduction is coming up with a conclusion based on those facts.

When you're asking a lot of questions, you're thinking critically, and that improves your skills at deduction in general.

Form Connections Between What You See and What You Know
 It's not necessarily that Holmes remembers more, but that he can see connections that people usually miss. People think Holmes is this paragon of logic, but that logic is innately imaginative at its core. He doesn't think linearly, he engages his entire network of possible connections. 

The more connections you make, and the more often you think critically, the better you're going to get at making deductions

Increase Your Knowledge Base

It's rarely worth it to condense your knowledge into a specialty.

You should be broad in your knowledge. Holmes says that you should have a clean "brain attic," but he's also a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He reads incredibly broadly—he reads about art, music—things that you would think have no bearing on his detective work. I think that's an important lesson that we can take. It's bad to overspecialize, and we should try to remain as curious about all the different types of things you want to learn. -- Konnikova

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RELATED IDEAS

Holmes practices mindfulness

Mindfulness means focusing on only one problem or activity at a time.

Our brain cannot do two things at once. “What we believe is multi-tasking is really the brain switching quickly from one task to the next.” 

A study points out that those who are multi-taskers are less efficient.

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IDEAS

Being Vulnerable Is Being Smart

By being authentic, Clarice disarmed Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s intellectual superiority. Instead of trying to compete with him, her vulnerability made Hannibal more cooperative.

Being vulnerable reflects the best on you and others. You don’t need to outsmart others to find a great solution. Vulnerability is not a weakness, but a superpower — what we reflect comes back to us.

Daniel Kahneman believes there are two systems for organizing and filtering knowledge: 

  • System one is real-time. This system makes judgments and decisions before our mental apparatus can consciously catch up. 
  • System two, on the other hand, is a slow process of thinking based on critical examination of evidence. Konnikova refers to these as System Watson and System Holmes.

To move from a System Watson- to a System Holmes-governed thinking takes mindfulness plus motivation.

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