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Chelsea Grant

@chelseag

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“Focused” and “Diffused” Modes

When learning, there are times in which you are focused and times in which you allow your mind to wander. Both modes are valuable to allow your brain to learn something.

Take regular breaks, meditate, think about other things, and give yourself plenty of time in both modes.

@chelseag

What I learned from Coursera's "Learning How to Learn"

medium.com

Chunking
This is the idea of breaking what you want to learn into concepts. 

The goal is to learn each concept in a way that they each become like a well-known puzzle piece. 

In order to master a concept, you not only need to know it but also to know how it fits into the bigger picture.

Beware of Illusions of Competence
There are many ways in which we can make ourselves feel like we have “learned” a concept.

Instead of highlighting or underlining, rather take brief notes that summarize keys concepts.

Recall
Take a couple minutes to summarize or recall material you are trying to learn.

It goes a long way to taking something from short-term memory to long-term learning.

In order to avoid or break through illusions of competence, you should test yourself as you’re encountering new material

Recall is a simple example of this mini-testing.

Over-Learning

Do not spend too much time in one sitting going over the same material over and over again. The law of diminishing returns certainly applies. Spread it out over many sessions and over many different modes of learning.

Once you have a basic understanding of what you are trying to learn, practice jumping back and forth between problems that require different techniques. This will solidify your understanding of the concepts by learning how to choose to apply them in various situations. 

Know when to apply a particular concept is as important as knowing how.

When facing procrastination, think of the process over the product.

Instead of thinking that you have to get X done, rather think to spend an hour on X. It is then not overwhelming, and doesn't require a long breakdown of tasks.

Metaphors and Analogies

They are often talked about as helpful study techniques. 

Try to make a deliberate effort to teach what you learn to someone else and, in doing so, you will likely be forced to explain concepts with relatable metaphors and analogies.

... have proven to be most beneficial to maintain continued progress and hold each other accountable. Finding the right group is key.

Brain Dumping

Brain dumping is an exercise where we comprehensively express and record our thoughts, ideas, or commitments from our heads onto a paper or a calendar.

Brain Dump: How I Stop Being Overwhelmed (Simple Exercise)

dansilvestre.com

  1. You will stop having random thoughts. Having these constantly feels like you have 20 tabs open in your mind.
  2. You will be able to think and work faster. Just like any other computer, when you have too many junk files, you start to slow down. Brain dumping is like deleting these junk files you don't need.
  3. Working will feel like a breeze without any worries or stressors. It's easier to be present and enjoy your work without having to think about everything all at once.
  1. Free Flow - this is best used when trying to calm down your chaotic mind. you just write anything and everything down without altering or deleting.
  2. Goal Focused - this is best for planning your day the night before for a less anxious night. Basically prioritizing tasks and preparing ahead.
  3. Gratefulness - this is best used to lessen worry and to focus on everything we have and did right.
  4. Weekly - best for reviewing the things you did this week is to re-clarify your goals in life.
  1. Starting too late. Do not delay brain dumps. It doesn't have to be a daily habit unless you deem it fit.
  2. Not trusting your notes.
  3. Write, don't type. You will remember what you've written down better instead of it being typed on a screen.
  4. Not taking a break. After a brain dump, it's recommended to take a 15-minute break to relax and enjoy yourself.
  5. Ignoring the cause. Brain dumping helps relieve stress and anxiety but take the time to stop and reevaluate what you currently are in.
The state of boredom

Boredom is that feeling of dissatisfaction with the world around you and disinterest in your current activity. While you want to be engaged with the world, you don't want to do any of the activities in front of you.

Boredom is our brain telling us it's time to switch activity. That feeling of restlessness is motivating us to find new pursuits that will bring more satisfaction.

How boredom can be a force for good or bad

bbc.com

On the surface, boredom can appear to be a trivial problem. But it may lead to some more severe problems.

Boredom is associated with risk-taking behaviours such as drug and alcohol use as well as self-harm.

  • Boredom is the inability to pay attention, because a task is too difficult, too simple or doesn't feel meaningful to us at present.
  • Boredom does not have to lead to poor choices. Understanding the reasons why people are bored is important in finding good solutions.

Rather than being frustrated with boredom or using it as an excuse, find out why you feel discontent.

  • Most important is to stop dwelling on the idea that you are bored.
  • Instead, figure out why you're bored right now.
  • Create a list of activities for when you feel energetic and bored, and when you're feeling more tired. The activity could be reasonably mindless, like knitting an easy pattern or getting a cup of coffee. The point is to find an activity that feels meaningful.
Scientific Backed Ways To Learn Better
  1. Learn faster and retain more by imagining that you have to teach someone else what you are learning
  2. Sleeping between two learning sessions greatly improves retention.
  3. Changing the way you practice a new motor skill can help you master it faster.
  4. Dedicating 30-50 minutes sections to learning new material separated by 10 minute breaks is an efficient way of learning.
  5. Make note cards by hand for the more difficult concepts you are trying to master so you can use them in idle moments.
  6. Taking notes with pen and paper instead of digitally will help you learn and comprehend better as it takes more focus, making you listen more actively and better identify concepts.
  7. Practice distributed learning, or “spacing.” It consists of reviewing the information one to two days after first studying it.
  8. Downtime is important when it comes to retaining what you learn, and getting sleep in between study sessions can boost your recall up to six months later.

Six Brain Hacks To Learn Anything Faster

fastcompany.com

Thomas Edison
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison Quotes - Failure IS the Road to Success!

fearlessmotivation.com

Thomas Edison
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas Edison
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Thomas Edison
“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
Thomas Edison
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this; you haven’t.”
Thomas Edison
"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
Smartphones and our perception of time

Smartphones have changed the way we fill our time while waiting. Every moment of potential boredom can now be directed to modes of entertainment or other distractions.

Consequently, day-dreaming, thinking, speculating, observing, and people-watching are diminishing.

Waiting: rediscovering boredom in the age of the smartphone

theconversation.com

Non-places refer to spaces formed with certain ends (transport, commerce, leisure).

We often stand, lean or sit in these transitory public spaces hunched over our smartphones, but we don't experience them as places. Instead of noticing the rich detail these zones often display, they become spatial and visual white noise.

A bored mind is more likely to seek out activities that engage the brain.

Instead of using electronic devices to distract ourselves, we could see boredom as an invitation to look up and around, to people-watch, daydream, or to take the time to observe the world around us.

An amazing piece of Technology
  • If you time-traveled to the 1960s, or the 1980s, and tried to describe smartphones to the people you met, they wouldn’t believe you.
  • It is an all-in-one piece of tech that lets you do practically anything.
  • To people from previous generations, these would appear as Superpowers.
  • Yet in the current age, a section of people are despising smartphones and want to get rid of them.

Smartphones Are Toys First, Tools Second

raptitude.com

Smartphones are now toys

Our phones' utilitarian function has is compromised by the presence of numerous magnetic recreational functions.

We don’t play with our keys or debit cards, tape measures, calculators or dictionaries, but we do play with our smartphones because they are now 90% toy.

Make Smartphones tools again
For a Smartphone to be a tool, it has to useful and boring. It can be attractive for intentional, practical uses, but not for a reflexive diversion—a Swiss Army knife, not a carnival, in our pockets.
True Happiness: The Science Of The Smile

‘How are you?’is maybe the world’s most common greeting question and we all ask it as a way to see how happy or unhappy the other person is.

The nature of human happiness has gained traction in the last few decades with psychologists, economists and neuroscientists now interested in studying emotions, specifically happiness. Even many countries are now looking at measuring the ‘happiness index’ of their population.

The Science Behind the Smile

hbr.org

Measuring happiness, which is a highly subjective emotion, is akin to getting your eye tested through the various lenses for your correct eye prescription number.

Measuring something as subjective as happiness can still provide usable results through the process of asking a critical mass of people so that any subjective inaccuracies cancel themselves out.

  • People are always pushing towards finding happiness in whatever circumstances that are thrust upon them.
  • Happiness and unhappiness both promote creativity, though of a different quality.
  • Employees who have challenging but not impossible goals appear to be happy and productive, with high engagement levels and a sense of purpose.
  • Contented employees which are too much into their comfort zones aren’t as creative as those who are a bit uncomfortable and have healthy levels of stress.
  • People in good romantic relationships are happier than loners.
  • Healthy people are happier than those who are sick.
  • Religious people are happier than atheists.
  • Rich people are happier than the poor.
  • A new house, a new car, or even a new spouse only provides temporary happiness.
  • People are extremely poor in predicting what will make them happy or unhappy.
  • Many events like winning or losing a contest, exam, or promotion have the opposite impact on the individual.
  • Most good or bad experiences subside within three months or less.
  • Most people are resilient and have a natural tendency to bounce back after a setback.
  • Social beings with a great network are exponentially happier than lonely people.
  • The intensity of one’s positive experience is not as important as their frequency.
  • Small things of joy, like wearing comfortable shoes, giving a lovely kiss to your wife, sneakingly eating something desirable contributes to our overall happiness.

Simple behaviours like meditating, sleeping well, helping others, practicing minimalism, journaling and being grateful for what you have, can increase our happiness significantly.

Choose your hobbies wisely

Picking the right activities will prevent the clutter that comes from abandoned hobbies.

Explore interests that provide a sense of flow - a highly focused mental state. Seek a combination of solitary and social hobbies that will develop a range of cognitive, creative, and physical skills.

An Eco-minimalist Approach To Hobbies

nosidebar.com

Your goal could be to master a piece of music on guitar or make a chocolate soufflé.

We are more likely to stick with a hobby when the results are satisfying.

Chores and errands become more bearable when we have scheduled leisure time into the day.

A specific time for a yoga class or art journaling can brighten an entire day.

If shopping for an outfit excites you more than the activity, it is probably not the right hobby for you.

Explore new interests with borrowed, rented, or secondhand supplies. It seldom makes sense to invest in new gear before you have made a long-term commitment to your hobby.

Recreation should not cause unnecessary stress.

Setting boundaries for your time, materials, and budget will increase creativity and focus.

Share durable supplies that you only use occasionally, such as woodworking tools.

Admit when you've outgrown a hobby. Donate or sell excess gear that may otherwise create clutter.

Seizing the day

Carpe diem (seize the day) is one of the oldest philosophical mottos in western history.

First voiced by Horace (the Roman poet) more than 2,000 years ago, it retains an extraordinary resonance in popular culture.

How do we really seize the day?

theguardian.com

  • Metallica (the band) has trilled audiences around the world with their song Carpe Diem Baby.
  • Carpe diem is a message found in Hollywood films such as Dead Poets Society.
  • Carpe diem relates tp one of the most successful brand campaigns (Just Do It);
  • Carpe diem is alsso related to the social media hashtag #yolo (you only live once).
  • This expression from a dead language returns more than 25m online search results.

Carpe diem means different things to different people.

For some of us it may relate to taking a once in a lifetime opportunity, while for others it is about indulging in wild hedonism or living calmly in the present moment.

  • It has been hijacked by consumer culture: Just Do It became Just Buy It.
  • The productivity obsession turned the spontaneity of Just Do It into the obsession of Just Plan It.
  • Digital entertainment is replacing real life events with screen-based pleasures. Just Do It became Just Watch It instead.
  • Mindfulness encourages the limited idea that seizing the day is mainly about living in the here and now. Just Do It has become Just Breathe.

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