Archive for the ‘personal development’ Category

How you sit can determine how you think

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

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Suite 101 has posted a short guide to how sitting posture can effect which side of the brain you will tend to use – left brain preferring rigidity and a firm setting, right brain preferring comfort – pretty interesting stuff worth bearing in mind.

Posture and Learning
– How To Engage Left and Right Brain
(via Paul Stamatiou

Developing Strengths and Learning Who You Are

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

LifeDev posted this back in February but I forgot to blog about it because I Am But Human and the link kinda got lost in my Google Reader Starred category (seriously, it’s a cool feature, but a number-of-starred-items indicator would be nice).

Anyway, I mostly agree with the opinions put across in the article, and the 70/20/10 model is a useful one. This is an issue I’ve had problems with personally over the years – I’m a little obsessed with becoming a triple threat (I’m aiming at writing and programming at the moment, but haven’t decided on a third talent yet), so perhaps instead of ‘looking for new ways to maximize your abilities’ I’d go for ‘developing ancillary talents’.

Perhaps this is part and parcel of being a student – at its core, being a student isn’t about getting a piece of paper that says you know about something, but rather it’s about learning who you are and what you are.

So don’t specialize too quickly, else you’ll end up doing something you think you want to do, rather than something you actually want to do.

How to train yourself like you train your dog

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Now, this is going to seem like I’m going off-topic here, but bear with me for a second.

I want to talk to you about dogs.

## Dog Training ##

I read a lot about habits, particularly from Steve Pavlina. The act of working out what habit you want and embedding it deep in your psyche and muscle memory is really cool, and it’s a technique that has applications from martial arts to human-computer interaction (I will regularly teach myself a new UI trick by doing it over and over and over again to really embed it in my psyche – things like adding a new snippet to textexpander through the services menu).

This has similarities with how you go about training a dog, or at least from my understanding of it, never having owned one myself: you get a dog to do something over and over again and it’ll embed itself into the animal’s psyche just as effectively, and it’ll soon be house-trained or learn to beg or able to sing along to Mr Lonely.

What’s my point here? When a dog does a good thing you treat it, give it something to eat, stroke it, make it feel good and really get that positive reinforcement going. That’s what we all need to do when enforcing these things: not just being hard on ourselves and working through discipline, but really getitng those positive associations to work well.

Academic Productivity

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

A nice new academic-centric productivity blog that’s worth a look: Academic Productivity. In particular, I enjoyed this interview with Dave Navarro, in which he talks about how he writes academic papers – a ‘bottom up’ approach, choosing figures and chunks of text and then slowly building up into the big picture. Which is interesting, because that’s the precise opposite of how I write essays. Hmmm…

[Via This Writing Life and PsychSplash]

On Confidence

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

So Lifehacker have posted a link to 7 Helpful tips to Immediately Increase Your Confidence, which is a valuable little page that I recommend you all read – if you’ve looked into personal development for very long there’ll probably be nothing all that new here, but it’s definitely worth a look.

I have issues with confidence myself, although it’s rarely paralyzing – I get nervous about granular tasks, like public speaking or occasionally cold calling on the rare occasions I have to do it, but never about wider career spanning issues. These tactics have certainly helped a little bit, but they don’t Immediately Increase Your Confidence – they contribute to it over time, as it takes a while to shift over to the correct mindset.

Those kinds of titles really bother me about self-help, because it sounds like a silver bullet type of issue. You’re not going to wake up one day and suddenly be More Confident, because confidence is a mental habit that you have to wire your brain around and get used to.

Taking Care Of Yourself

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

So Wil Wheaton has made an awesome post on something we all forget to do from time to time, but something that’s dead important: taking time out for yourself.

Being dedicated to making other people’s lives better is all good, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be any help to anybody.

It also reminds me of an important point from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – she calls them artist dates, going out and doing something creative and fun, just you and yourself, in order to get back in touch. Kind of like spending time with your inner child.

Productivity & Geekiness II: first week reflections

Monday, February 19th, 2007

So I’ve been using my personal productivity scoring system (outlined here) for a week now, and I have some Reflections and Tweaks as a consequence.

It’s Actually Not That Hard

My first and most important point is that it’s surprisingly not as hard as I expected to keep the system running – reflecting on the day’s events in the evening is something I try to do anyway through journalling, and this scoring system has the added consequence of keeping me positive – there’s no point dwelling on the bad things as I don’t get any points for them.

Points!

Another thing I had difficulty with at first was the attribution of scores: it may seem at first glance like my blueprinting for last week was not as effective as my thinking or relaxation, but that was before I came to a realization:

This is not a grading system – it’s a scoring system. I only score 40 points in Blueprinting most days, because that’s all the points I need to score – or for that matter should score.

Granularity!

Another positive impact I noticed is that the exponential scoring for Actions has encouraged me to enforce more granularity in my action descriptions – I break each task down to it’s lowest sensible denominator and don’t have any tasks that are actually projects anymore, because in breaking up my tasks properly I get more points.

Having said that, as a consequence of the new Massive Point Values I can reach on productive days I’ve ended up multiplying every other point value by ten. This way I’m reaching Mad Points every day, averaging 500 points every day. Proving, therefore, that I am a Productivity Ninja.

The Now Naked Issues

The process has also shown up some weaknesses in my current days: I consistently score under fifty for ‘Thinking’. This may be due to the way the system is at the moment, of course (minutes/12 may be too litte, methinks), but just the end-of-the-day thinking that I do is plainly not cutting it.

The Future

Next, I want to do some more tweaking, and then produce a paper form not unlike Dave’s Printable CEO. This may be a bit of a silly form as well (I’m thinking of showing just how much of a geek I am by making a character sheet with terms like ‘Wisdom’ standing in for ‘Blueprints’, ‘constitution” rather than ‘Action’, etc. Oh, and there’ll be a section on the right for each ‘monster’, or action completed. Yes, you may now point and laugh).

Productivity & Geekiness II: first week reflections

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

So I’ve been using my personal productivity scoring system (outlined here) for a week now, and I have some Reflections and Tweaks as a consequence.

It’s Actually Not That Hard

My first and most important point is that it’s surprisingly not as hard as I expected to keep the system running – reflecting on the day’s events in the evening is something I try to do anyway through journalling, and this scoring system has the added consequence of keeping me positive – there’s no point dwelling on the bad things as I don’t get any points for them.

Points!

Another thing I had difficulty with at first was the attribution of scores: it may seem at first glance like my blueprinting for last week was not as effective as my thinking or relaxation, but that was before I came to a realization:

This is not a grading system – it’s a scoring system. I only score 40 points in Blueprinting most days, because that’s all the points I need to score – or for that matter should score.

Granularity!

Another positive impact I noticed is that the exponential scoring for Actions has encouraged me to enforce more granularity in my action descriptions – I break each task down to it’s lowest sensible denominator and don’t have any tasks that are actually projects anymore, because in breaking up my tasks properly I get more points.

Having said that, as a consequence of the new Massive Point Values I can reach on productive days I’ve ended up multiplying every other point value by ten. This way I’m reaching Mad Points every day, averaging 500 points every day. Proving, therefore, that I am a Productivity Ninja.

The Now Naked Issues

The process has also shown up some weaknesses in my current days: I consistently score under fifty for ‘Thinking’. This may be due to the way the system is at the moment, of course (minutes/12 may be too litte, methinks), but just the end-of-the-day thinking that I do is plainly not cutting it.

The Future

Next, I want to do some more tweaking, and then produce a paper form not unlike Dave’s Printable CEO. This may be a bit of a silly form as well (I’m thinking of showing just how much of a geek I am by making a character sheet with terms like ‘Wisdom’ standing in for ‘Blueprints’, ‘constitution” rather than ‘Action’, etc. Oh, and there’ll be a section on the right for each ‘monster’, or action completed. Yes, you may now point and laugh).

Bookgem review

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

So I ordered a BookGem book holder a few months ago, and I must say I rather like it. It’s a slightly odd-sounding concept – the thing is a portable folding book stand – but it works absolutely perfectly for my purposes.

I use it to hold copy that I’m typing out – I like to write fiction longhand when I get the chance, mostly because it slows me down and forces me to re-read everything when I type it up, so it’s very handy for that. Also, I use it for reference books a lot when I’m working on an essay – I hold the book open on the required page when typing out quotes or taking notes.

I mostly don’t use it as advertised – i.e. simple recreational reading – mainly because I read up at a desk. But if you’re looking for a cheap, portable and flexible copyholder, the BookGem is well worth a look.

If you’re curious, Here’s how it works.

Hesitation – or The Difficulty With Ch-ch-choices

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

People seem to hesitate on the simplest questions. I always thought it was just me, but apparently not. For example, I was in a coffee shop recently, and heard this little exchange at the counter.

“Cup or mug?”
Long pause
“Um… er.. Cup! Yes, cup, please.”

Choices are difficult and can easily slow you down. In the example above, it didn’t make any difference if the man had a cup or a mug – it’s a matter of preference for some people I suppose, but it’s not something you should overly concern yourself with.

And to stop this from becoming a customer-service-y Creating Passionate Users post, here’s how this is relevant for personal productivity:

Handle your choices up the line. When you’re planning out a project, make as many choices as you can about how to handle the project, what to do when, as early as you can. You can always review them later if you have a better idea, but if you don’t have a better idea, you won’t waste time hesitating and trying to determine what to do.