You

Rest, Leisure, and Mental Crop Rotation

This article talks about taking time off from a difficult problem to get some distance and perspective so you can make a breakthrough.

I also really like the idea in here of “mental crop rotation” where you intentionally work on a different hard problem for a while to clean your head before you come back to the first hard problem. Actually, that’s from Kierkegaard. (I used to make fun of people who quoted Kierkegaard in college. 😂)

👉 Using Incubation to Unlock Your True Creative Potential

Creativity is about connecting dots. But if we try to force it, if we’re too focused on it, all we ever do is connect neighboring dots, resulting in a rigid grid of stale thoughts. To really see the interesting connections we need to get a new perspective and gain some distance. Then the truly interesting connections will reveal themselves.

Music · You

The Best Music for Working

According to research on the effect of music listening on work performance, music can indeed help your brain work better. But it depends what you are listening to.

👉 5 Types of Music That Increase Your Productivity, According to Science

Official Recommendations

Classical music, especially baroque, can increased mood and concentration – see Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel 👉example

Not really music, but nature sounds can increase cognitive function and concentration – rain, water, etc. 👉 example

Epic music can inspire you if you’re feeling unmotivated 👉 example

Video Game Music – this music is designed to help your brain feel better! 👉 Sim City, Bastion, or pick a game! (Zelda?)

Ambient music can reduce stress (I’m not a huge fan, so no example 🤷🏻‍♂️😂)

My Own Favs

I personally love classical adaptations of rock and pop, such as Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin or the Vitamin String Quartet.

I also like some of the Apple Music concentration playlists such as Swift Concentration.

And even though it breaks some of the rules above, I just find KUTX relaxing.

Also, Miles Davis.

What Doesn’t Work

Not surprisingly, complex musical structure and lyrics don’t help. In fact, they make it harder for you brain to focus. (*Still, I can work to Johny Cash music, probably because it’s so familiar.)

Also, any music may hinder the especially difficult tasks.

And you have to be in the habit of listening to music to make it helpful. If you only do it sometimes, it doesn’t help.

Me · You

The 50/50 Rule and Why I Blog

My blog’s current tag line is “This is not a blog.”

Originally, this site was intended as a way to keep track of links to interesting or useful things, like glorified bookmarks. But since then, it has evolved to serve another purpose: to make me think and communicate about stuff.

See, as I was bookmarking stuff, I found myself adding little bits about why I liked the link or context about how I found it. Over time, I found that when I would link to an article, I would sometimes want to add a summary about the article to help me process it and remember it better.

A better way to learn, process, retain and remember information is to learn half the time, and share half the time.

If I take two seconds to effortlessly save a bookmark, then the information is saved and soon forgotten. If I add even a quick post about it, giving it a title and some context or a summary, then that post is now a part of me. And as a bonus, I get to share it with other people.

So I was happy to see this article, which makes me think I am not wasting my time.

👉 The 50/50 Rule (How to Retain And Remember 90% of Everything You Learn)

It basically says that if you make yourself talk about something, then you come to understand it or appreciate it better. Spend half you time learning and half your time explaining what you learned.

According to the article, I would be serving myself better by writing out my notes by hand. It seems people type too fast for their brain to absorb what they’re doing. And simply by writing that, I now remember that fact. But I’m typing this anyways because you can’t tag, search, and share your paper notebook. 🤷🏻‍♂️

And yes, this article is so meta.

You

Ahhh, Sleep

I hate setting aside 8 hours to sleep as much as anyone. If you need some inspiration, consider these benefits of getting 7-8 hours of sleep instead of 6. I’m adding this as a note to myself… Don’t skim on sleep! It’s not a waste of time!

  • Unclogs your arteries
  • Clears out brain clutter
  • Improves brain performance

👉 Why Lack of Sleep is So Bad For You

I remember reading that good sleep habits also help maintain a better body weight. I believe that; I know I get the munchies pretty bad when I’m tired. 😪


Follow up… An article on staying up late being tied to health issues including cancer and depression. 😵

You

How a Genius Solves Problems (by putting details second)

Amazing article on solving problems by first understanding essentials of the problem (not the solution). Simplify and focus on the big picture or “core” of the problem before jumping into details.

👉 Claude Shannon: How a Genius Solves Problems

Finding the true form of the problem is almost as important as the answer that comes after.

I practically want to copy and past the whole article in here, but here are a few select highlights.

Finding the core problem

…it is to get the bigger picture right before you go chasing after the details. Otherwise, you start by pointing yourself in the wrong direction.

Shannon’s reasoning… was that it isn’t until you eliminate the inessential from the problem you are working on that you can see the core that will guide you to an answer.

Looking at the problem in different ways

One of Shannon’s go-to tricks was to restructure and contrast the problem in as many different ways as possible. This could mean exaggerating it, minimizing it, changing the words of how it is stated, reframing the angle from where it is looked at, and inverting it.

In every day life

Much of life — whether it’s in your work, or in your relationships, or as it relates to your well-being — comes down to identifying and attacking a problem so that you can move past it.

You

Optimism is not always > pessimism

👉 https://blog.liberationist.org/the-bright-and-dark-sides-of-optimism-and-pessimism-95c6092f560c

I’d consider myself to be an optimist, even against overwhelming evidence at times. It’s a sort of faith. It’s fun to be optimistic and see what happens. I like to give the middle finger to negativity.

While this article acknowledges the positive powers of optimism, it also details the surprising advantages of some healthy pessimism. I may need to work on leveraging some pessimism more, especially while estimating projects and budgets!

Pessimism can help us prepare and do our best work, increase desire and enthusiasm to improve things, and even reduce anxiety by motivating focus over avoidance. 🤯

Highlights…

The down side of optimism

Multiple research has shown that optimism has a dark side too. Not only it can lead to poor outcomes, but it makes us underestimate risks or take less action. 

Optimists pay less attention to detail and fail to seek new information to challenge their rosy views leading to poor decisions.

The Optimism Bias is one of the two key factors why we inaccurately calculate big projects — we tend to underestimate both time and cost.

Defensive pessimism

Defensive Pessimist is a particular type of pessimist that takes negative thinking to a whole new level. It’s a strategy that helps people reduce their anxiety — it drives focus rather than avoidance.

The defensive pessimist focuses on the worst-case scenario — s/he identifies and takes care of things that optimists miss. This approach can help us better prepare for events that are out of our full control such as a job interview.

Meliorism

In philosophy, Meliorism is a concept which drives our ability to improve the world through alteration — we can produce outcomes that are considered better than the original phenomenon.

Meliorism doesn’t mean ignoring the world’s evils. But to accept life’s setbacks as challenges to overcome. This joie de vivre energizes us — it boosts our desire and enthusiasm