|10-21-2007, 09:26 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2007
Thinking and Acting Faster
Yesterday I was taking a test and was extremely pressed for time. It was a math test and I knew how to solve all of the problems, but I just didn't have enough time. This is when I realized a major problem I had.
For some reason I am very slow. With each math problem, I look at the problem, think about it, figure out how I'm going to solve it, and then go through every step, writing everything down. It takes a lot of time. Math is not the only time that I do this though. I do this with everything. It even takes me forever to decide what candy bar I want.
The worst thing, is that I'm slow with decision making and I'm slow with work. Doing my chores and my homework seems to take forever. I read pretty slow even though I photoread. I'm just not sure what the problem is and how to fix it. I need to be able to make decisions faster and to get things done faster. But I don't want to give up quality.
How is this possible? I know that plenty of people do the same things just as well, or better than me, but much faster.
|10-21-2007, 09:39 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2007
Being faster isn't necessarily better depending on what you're doing. As for the choosing a candybar thing, sometimes you have to make more decisions quicker and you'll get better at it. I think you sort of have to choose between what warrents more thought and what doesn't. For a math test it isn't bad to take your time even if it means not finishing all the questions, you may still score higher by getting more right, so perhaps cut yourself a break on that one. Picking things that won't make a huge difference, like the candy bar, give yourself a time limit to choose, set your wristwatch if you have to, if it goes off grab the nearest one. It's a make your own choice or suffer the consequences type of theory. You may have to grab a candy bar you don't particularly care for. Make conscious choices of things like that, things that won't have a huge effect if you choose wrong. Give yourself a time limit and stick to it. As you make more of these decisions quicker you'll find they become easier to make. Then you can start to set a quicker deciding time for other more important things. It does take practice but the more you do it the better at it you will become. And do remember that for some things slow and thoughtful is an advantage, you may not want to change everything.
|10-23-2007, 08:00 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Moscow, Russia
I can't be sure, but what you are describing can be the result of constant internal dialog. Do you think through the problems, decisions etc? I mean, do you hear your voice in your head when you do it? You might be used to it, so you don't realize it's there. But what you say about writing down every step of the problem points to this. It's not a problem by itself - it is just the way your internal thinking patterns are structured. Probably it makes you good at certain things. For example, when you finally make your decision it is usually a very good decision. But, as you realize, in some situations speed is the factor.
The good news is that this mental pattern of yours have alternatives that are as good as yours in terms of quality, but much faster.
The problem with internal dialog is that it works like the tape recorder. You start the thought at the beginning and play it through to the end. If you are interrupted, you might have to rewind it, sometimes to the very beginning and start again. If you try to fast forward it, it becomes incomprehensible and it takes a lot of effort and time to find the place somewhere on the tape (where he solution is).
However, you mind usually knows the answer long before you know it, long before you talk it through. And it is the very same answer, so the quality will not suffer. It's like the same tune being recorded on the CD, you can jump right to the correct track. You just have to find the way to access this information.
Thinking in images is much faster. Think about it, if it is a picture, we can usually easily locate the important bit on it. However it will take a lot of time if we try to describe the picture verbally. Here comes the proverbial picture worth thousand words.
Some people think not in images but in movies. Movies are linear, but even when they are fast forwarded they are comprehensible, so I can scan through my mental movies very fast.
You can start using pictures by drawing them on a paper instead of writing everything down. In fact, I had the same problem with math as you did, and our math teacher has always told us "draw a picture", he would say these words in a very strong voice before solving any example problems, so this became a second nature for us. Math is about mental models and they work really well as images. Math notation is just the way to save paper and describe these models with shortcuts. The great examples are probability and calculus. When you draw the pictures it becomes clear as day and you can be confident that what you are writing down is correct. It translates into speed.
With practice, you will be able to draw these pictures in your mind. It will become even faster. And then you can expand it into the different parts of your life.
If there is a mnemonics course in your area, you may want to go there. They usually give good exercises for visualization to get you started.
Some people say, that the body, or kinesthetic system (if we want to use posh words) is the slowest of all. I find that it has certain inertia, but when you need to get a fast reaction from it you can. It takes a bit of practice, but following your gut is a literal instruction. For example, when I type and make a mistake I know it immediately from the certain feeling in my chest.
To take decision making, you can use the following excersize. It is called scales (you know, the ancient variety, like the statues of justice usually have). Imagine that your hands are the two plates of the scales. Stand up (do it at first, then you can do it while sitting down and very discretely). You need some freedom of movement in your body. Turn the palms of your hands up. In your mind take one choice you are facing, and put it on one of your palms. Try to feel it's weight. Do the same with the second choice but put it on another palm. Then just think for a while about which choice is more important for you. Which one will be important, say, 10 years from now. Do it without looking at your hands. Look straight ahead or above yourself. After some moments, look down. You will notice that one palm is lower then another. Go with the choice that was resting on the lower palm.
To make this work, you have to relax your muscles, obviously. Then your subconscious will slightly jerk your hands in the different positions. If it doesn't than the choice is not that important. Try to do it first with the choices that are pretty clear for you and very distinct. You need to see that it works, otherwise you will have hard time believing that this is at all possible.
The description of exercise looks long. That's because I've used words In practice, when you know the drill, it takes a couple of seconds really. Simultaneously you learn to to trust the feelings in your body. After some time you just ask a question and get an answer inside your body without any formal process.
Hope this all will give you a hint or two.
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