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Problem Solving

83 STASHED IDEAS

When distraction is just a click away, it is hard to learn something. Time is a huge barrier to progress, but it is our choices of where we put our attention and effort that really impacts our learning.

The way out of this is to suspend all activities we normally spend our time on, like the TV, smartphones, games, and social media. Then slowly reintroduce the ones we cannot live without. This way we will have plenty of time to accommodate learning.

Iker T. (@ikert) - Profile Photo

@ikert

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Problem Solving

Finding Time For Learning
  • Most adults who are juggling work, parenting and self-care find it hard to set aside time to learn anything new.
  • The desire to learn is there, as one knows the importance of upgrading one’s skill sets. The challenge is to find the time to learn.
  • The most fundamental strategy is not to spread ourselves too thin, and have only one project at a time. If we want to learn tennis, painting and coding, we need to pick one first.
  • If multiple projects are important to us, we still need to focus on learning one project at a time and pick the second one after progress is made on the first one.

The hidden reason our learning projects don’t see the light of the day is that we don’t align them with our existing work, social pursuits, family time or other sources of meaning in our lives.

Example: Learning a new language becomes easy if we are teaching it to our kid daily.

Most of us believe we are killing time when we play video games or watch Netflix, or simply scroll through the endless doom feeds of Facebook.

It is imperative to know that we cannot really kill time, which is eternal and which eventually kills us. We could make use of our limited time and do something productive, but it is hard as we are spoilt for choice.

Finding time is ultimately the question of motivation, and if something excites us enough, we will find time for it.

We need to make learning as easy as possible by setting the right environment.

We can do this by:

  1. Having the required materials with us at all times.
  2. Setting up our workstation or working area in such a way that we can start our learning session in a few seconds.
  3. If we have only 15 or 20 minutes a day to learn, we can try batching together any unpleasant pre-learning task beforehand, to avoid friction.

Delayed gratification at its core isn’t about self-control, but about managing our emotions.

If we look at credit card debt, consumer loans, the drug addiction epidemic, obesity levels, and problems with mental health, it is evident that delaying gratification is hard for most of us.

.. is when you trade your present happiness with a greater amount of happiness in the future.

  • Most religions discovered that it is a virtue to delay your pleasures, and saving up on resources.
  • Delayed gratification, or sacrificing today for a better tomorrow is one of the foundations of our civilization.
  • It works because the benefits of delaying, saving or not consuming something add up.
  • Eating healthy today, investing in the business for long-term gains.
  • For the young, studying right now (instead of a party) to have a better life in the future is delayed gratification.
  1. Make things out of sight to avoid them. Example: Not being in the vicinity of junk food to avoid putting it in your mouth.
  2. Grow up and find out what you are dealing with. Example: If you smoke, understand the health, social, financial and other costs associated with smoking.
  3. Have time-bound, realistic goals to motivate yourself for the future. Be specific and committed.
  4. Learn to identify and manage your emotions.
  5. Be with the right people, those who move you towards your goal.
  • Many cultural systems in society keep us in check so that we don’t derail our lives. Schools and colleges, parental guidance and any community have rules and regulations in place that are based on delayed gratification.
  • Just like a child is not able to resist the temptation of eating a marshmallow, even if promised more marshmallows later, delayed gratification is something that is not easy to do for most of us, in a fundamental way.
  • Resisting the urge to eat the cake because you are on a diet, or denying yourself a new iPhone so that you can save up for a new house later is all part of the same game.
  • Practice grayscale thinking. This means that the world isn’t just seen in black and white. It means opening your mind to the possibility that there could be more answers than just yes or no.
  • Overcome resistance to change by experimenting. We have a tendency to stick with what is familiar even if it really isn’t the best option.
  • Recognize that you always have more to learn. To have an experimental mindset, you must be willing to see what others are doing better. Take their insight and use it to create your own solutions. 
The Experimental Mindset

It means looking at the world differently. Any successful person you see didn’t get there by doing the same old thing. They innovated. They adapted. They changed. Rather than thinking “Well, that’s just how it is,” you instead think “what can I do to make it better?”

Opening your mind to the possibility that there could be more answers than just yes or no means you are able to see past the obvious right or wrong answers that have been used in the past—and see a third, fourth, fifth option.

You don’t know yet if it will work. But in this way, obstacles become chances to experiment and try to find new solutions.

  • Outcome feedback: this tells you something about how well you’re doing overall but offers no ideas as to what you’re doing better or worse.
  • Informational feedback: this feedback tells you what you’re doing wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you how to fix it.
  • Corrective feedback: the best kind of feedback to get is corrective feedback. This is the feedback that shows you not only what you’re doing wrong but how to fix it.
SCOTT H. YOUNG

“Knowledge expands, but so does ignorance, as with a greater understanding of a subject also comes a greater appreciation for all the questions that remain unanswered.”

  • Your environment: be aware of what environment you work best in, and test it. Multitasking may feel like fun, but it’s unsuitable for ultralearning.
  • The task you’re trying to learn: certain activities, due to their nature, are harder to focus on than others.
  • Your mind: negative emotions, restlessness, and daydreaming can be some of the biggest obstacles to focus.
Ultralearning

It is a strategy for acquiring skills and knowledge. Ultralearning is a potent skill for dealing with a changing world. It has three main characteristics:

  • It is a strategy. A strategy is not the only solution to a given problem, but it may be a good one.
  • It's self-directed. It’s about how you make decisions about what to learn and why.
  • It's an intense process. Ultralearners always search for and take unusual steps to maximize their effectiveness in learning.
Why We Procrastinate

At some level there’s a craving that drives us to do something else, there’s an aversion to doing the task itself or both.

Much procrastination is unconscious. We’re procrastinating, but we don’t internalize it that way.

Scott H. Young

"For those who know how to use technology wisely, it is the easiest time in history to teach yourself something new."

  1. Meta-learning: Start by learning how to learn the subject or skill you want to tackle.
  2. Focus: Carve out time in your day, and hack back distractions.
  3. Directness: Practice the thing you want to learn. Learn by doing.
  4. Drill the weakest points: Break down complex skills into small parts.
  5. Retrieval: Testing isn’t simply a way of assessing knowledge but a way of creating it.
  6. Feedback: Know how to use it without letting your ego get in the way.
  7. Retention: Understand what you forget and why. Learn to remember things.
  8. Intuition: Develop your intuition through play and exploration of concepts and skills.
  9. Experimentation: Get outside your comfort zone by cultivating an experimental mindset.
Scott H. Young

“Over the last twenty years, the amount of knowledge easily accessible from a quick online search has exploded…Yet despite this incredible advance, it is not as if the average person is thousands as times as smart as people were was a generation ago. Being able to look things up is certainly an advantage, but without a certain amount of knowledge inside your head, it doesn’t help you solve hard problems.”

  • Economics: Average is over. But even if the economic landscape is rapidly changing may, we can engineer our response to it by aggressively learning the hard skills we need to thrive.
  • Education: Ultralearning can fill some of those gaps when going back to school isn’t an affordable option.
  • Technology: The space of learning possibilities is immense, just waiting for ambitious autodidacts to come up with new ways to exploit it.
Where ideas come from

Ideas come to us when we have a specific problem but we do not focus on solving the problem directly.

It’s not at all obvious how to go about thinking up some new twist on these things. A new idea can feel like a remarkable discovery

The first phase of solving can be described as “worrying” about a problem or idea. It evokes anxiety and gives the impression of productivity.

But, overthinking can lead to a dead end. The key to solving the problem is to take a break from worrying. Focus your attention on some other activity. Take a long hike or a long drive, to give your mind the space to have a good idea.

Henri Poincaré, the father of chaos theory and the co-discoverer of special relativity, relates his own discovery. "the idea came to me, without anything in my former thoughts seeming to have paved the way for it.”

The Irish mathematician, Sir William Rowan Hamilton, had a similar epiphany while strolling by the Brougham Bridge. He was so delighted that he stopped and carved the defining algebraic equation into the bridge.

Big ideas do not come only from leisure. The arduous, mundane work is a vital part of the process. You can't skip the worrying phase. You work, and work, and work some more to get some understanding.

The eureka moments will emerge once you have prepared your mind.

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