I always asked myself what is the best way to do various things. I mean to do more in less time and in an efficient manner.
Things like how to study better?. How to think better?. How to manage time better?. How to solve problems quickly?. How to wake up early?. Such questions are always exciting to me.
To be frank, I might have spent many hours searching for answers to such questions. I got a few answers here and there which I am going to share here. I would like to call them Complementary Actions.
By this I mean two things or activities that might seem unrelated yet doing one thing improves the other.
Complementary Actions for Productivity
|Big picture||Breaking down things|
|Taking break||Solving problems|
The first one in this is writing and thinking. Writing helps us to think better, organize our thoughts.
Writing can be a powerful tool for improving your thinking and cognitive abilities. Here are some ways that writing can help you think better:
- Clarifying your thoughts: Writing allows you to organize your thoughts and ideas in a clear and coherent way. By putting your thoughts on paper, you can identify any gaps or inconsistencies in your thinking, and work to fill in those gaps and make your ideas more coherent.
- Improving memory: Writing things down can help improve your memory and recall. By writing down important information or ideas, you’re more likely to remember them later on.
- Increasing creativity: Writing can also help stimulate your creativity and generate new ideas. The act of writing can help you access different parts of your brain and come up with new and innovative ideas.
- Reducing stress: Writing can be a form of self-expression that helps you process your emotions and reduce stress. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you may gain a greater understanding of yourself and your emotions.
- Encouraging reflection: Writing can encourage you to reflect on your experiences and learn from them. By reflecting on your experiences and writing about what you’ve learned, you can gain valuable insights and make better decisions in the future.
Overall, writing is a powerful tool for improving your thinking and cognitive abilities. By regularly writing and reflecting on your thoughts, you can improve your clarity of thinking, memory, creativity, and emotional well-being.
The second one is teaching and learning. These days it is called in the name of the Feynman technique. Ask yourself what is the names of subjects you studied in your Bachelors/Masters? Can’t recollect fully? Chances are high for you to explain the whole concept in which you took the college seminar even today!. Teaching makes one learn better. As Einstein and Feynman said if you can’t teach it then you don’t understand it.
Teaching and learning are closely related processes that involve the transfer and acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The relationship between teaching and learning can be seen in several ways:
- Reciprocal process: Teaching and learning are a reciprocal process, meaning that they influence and affect each other. As teachers teach, they also learn, and as learners learn, they also teach. The interaction between teacher and learner can lead to new insights, deeper understanding, and improved performance.
- Active engagement: Both teaching and learning involve active engagement with the material. Teachers must actively engage with the material in order to teach it effectively, and learners must actively engage with the material in order to learn it effectively. Active engagement can include activities such as discussion, reflection, and problem-solving.
- Facilitation: Teachers facilitate learning by creating an environment that supports and encourages learning. They provide structure, guidance, feedback, and resources that help learners acquire new knowledge and skills. Learners, in turn, facilitate teaching by asking questions, providing feedback, and contributing to the learning environment.
- Collaboration: Teaching and learning often involve collaboration between teachers and learners. Collaboration can help promote deeper learning, as learners can learn from each other and teachers can learn from their students. Collaboration can also help build a sense of community and engagement in the learning process.
Overall, the relationship between teaching and learning is complex and dynamic. Teachers and learners can work together to create an environment that supports active engagement, facilitates learning, promotes collaboration, and leads to deeper understanding and improved performance.
Another technique is to ask questions on a topic to kick start your brain and focus on the topic. Questions can be never-ending and you may not find answers for most of the questions but still, it is extremely helpful.
Asking questions can help you focus better. Here are some reasons why:
- Increases engagement: When you ask questions, you are actively engaging with the material, which can help you stay focused and attentive. This can be especially helpful when you are trying to learn something new or challenging.
- Encourages critical thinking: Asking questions can also encourage you to think critically about the material you are learning. By asking questions, you are challenging your understanding of the material and exploring different perspectives, which can deepen your understanding and retention of the material.
- Clarifies confusion: If you are confused or uncertain about something, asking questions can help you clarify your understanding. By seeking clarification, you can identify any gaps or misunderstandings in your knowledge and address them before they become larger obstacles to your learning.
- Increases participation: Asking questions can also increase your participation and engagement in group settings. By asking questions, you can contribute to discussions and encourage others to do the same, which can lead to a more dynamic and collaborative learning environment.
Asking questions can be a powerful tool for improving your focus and learning. By increasing engagement, encouraging critical thinking, clarifying confusion, and increasing participation, asking questions can help you deepen your understanding and retention of the material, and ultimately achieve better learning outcomes.
Visualizing helps us to remember and absorb things very fast. I always think in terms of some visuals. If I can’t come up with a visual image, a piece of text or book or equation, a vague memory of these take place for the visual representation.
Visual thinking is a cognitive process that involves using mental images or visual representations to process and organize information. Visual thinking can help people make sense of complex information, solve problems, and generate new ideas.
Here are some characteristics of visual thinking:
- Mental imagery: Visual thinking involves creating mental images or representations of information. These images can be used to organize information, make connections between different concepts, and identify patterns and relationships.
- Spatial reasoning: Visual thinking also involves spatial reasoning, or the ability to understand and manipulate objects in space. This can be helpful when working with diagrams, charts, or other visual representations of information.
- Pattern recognition: Visual thinkers are often skilled at recognizing patterns and relationships between different pieces of information. This can help them identify trends and make predictions based on past data.
- Creativity: Visual thinking can also foster creativity, as it allows people to generate new ideas and solutions based on their mental images and representations of information.
Visual thinking can be used in a variety of contexts, such as problem-solving, brainstorming, and communication. For example, people may use visual thinking techniques like mind mapping, concept mapping, or sketching to organize and communicate complex information.
Visual thinking is a powerful cognitive tool that can help people process and make sense of complex information, solve problems, and generate new ideas.
If you have a big picture of a concept that can write a computer program for something then it means you can modularise it into individual blocks. Breaking down a large thing into individual components is a valuable skill in troubleshooting.
I have experienced this is troubleshooting hardware issues/bugs. Having an intuitive understanding of something helps us to come with good ideas on unexpected occasions.
Big picture understanding and breaking down into fundamental concepts are interrelated in that they both involve a process of simplification and abstraction.
A big picture understanding involves seeing the whole context or system in which something operates, without getting lost in the details. This requires a high-level view that captures the main features, goals, and relationships between the different parts. To achieve this understanding, one needs to identify and prioritize the most important elements, and synthesize them into a coherent whole.
Breaking down into fundamental concepts, on the other hand, involves identifying the basic building blocks of a system or concept, and understanding how they work together to create more complex phenomena. This requires a bottom-up approach, where one starts with the smallest possible components and gradually builds up to more complex structures. This process involves identifying the most essential elements and their relationships, and understanding how they combine to create emergent properties.
The relationship between big picture understanding and breaking down into fundamental concepts can be seen as a dialectic between the whole and its parts. To understand the big picture, we need to break it down into its essential components. And to understand the essential components, we need to see how they fit into the bigger picture. Ultimately, a deep understanding of any system or concept requires the ability to move back and forth between these two perspectives, and to synthesize them into a coherent whole.
Another one I faced is when we are stuck at some problem for a while, without much hope in solving it. Taking a break and articulating our problem to someone else along might show us the answer from somewhere.
Taking a break can be an effective way to help solve a problem because it allows your brain to rest and recharge, which can lead to fresh insights and new perspectives.
When we’re working on a problem, our brains can become fixated on a particular way of thinking or approach, which can sometimes hinder our ability to come up with novel solutions. Taking a break from the problem allows our brains to switch off and disengage from the problem, which can help us approach the problem from a fresh perspective when we return to it.
In addition, taking a break can reduce stress and mental fatigue, which can improve cognitive functioning and creativity. When we’re feeling stressed or mentally exhausted, our brains can struggle to think clearly, and we may find it harder to concentrate or come up with creative solutions. By taking a break, we give our brains a chance to relax and recharge, which can help us approach the problem with renewed focus and energy.
Furthermore, taking a break can also help us gain new insights and ideas by allowing our minds to wander and make new connections. Our brains are constantly making associations between different ideas and concepts, and taking a break can provide an opportunity for these associations to form and solidify.
In summary, taking a break can be an effective way to help solve a problem by allowing our brains to rest and recharge, reduce stress and mental fatigue, and gain new insights and ideas.
Having at least a rough plan and todo list saves time and improves productivity. Planning can improve productivity in several ways. Here are a few examples:
- Clarity of goals and priorities: Planning helps to define and prioritize tasks, so you can focus on what’s important. By setting clear goals, you can ensure that your time and energy are directed towards the most critical tasks, which can increase your productivity.
- Efficient use of time: Planning helps you allocate your time more effectively, so you can make the most of your available time. By scheduling your tasks and activities, you can avoid wasting time on low-value tasks or getting sidetracked by distractions.
- Anticipation of obstacles: Planning allows you to anticipate potential obstacles or roadblocks that might arise during a project or task. This allows you to be prepared with contingency plans and alternate approaches, which can help you stay on track and avoid delays.
- Increased motivation: Planning can help to boost motivation and momentum. By breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, you can build momentum and create a sense of progress, which can be motivating and increase productivity.
- Better communication and collaboration: Planning can facilitate better communication and collaboration with others. By sharing your plans and schedules with colleagues or team members, everyone can be on the same page and work more efficiently together.
In summary, planning can improve productivity by providing clarity of goals and priorities, efficient use of time, anticipation of obstacles, increased motivation, and better communication and collaboration.
All these could be personal, I may be different from someone else but there could be someone like me benefiting from these!. All these might seem miracle but I have experienced these many times.
The idea here is why don’t we practice these in different aspects (e.g. solving problems in life). This list here is not exhaustive. I will revisit and update as I encounter more of these. I hope these would work for someone else also.