Your Daily Steps for 08/18/14

Starting today, I will be bringing news, articles, and blog posts that will hopefully expose you to ideas and concepts that will broaden your knowledge base. Today’s topics cover how we learn and develop habits.

Baby Step Your Way To New Habits

Habits comprise 40% of our daily activities and they occur without our knowing. Good or bad, they are hardwired into our brains and it takes significant effort to change them. At Farnam Street, Shane Parrish gives us some hope in mastering our habits. It turns out that in order to change or establish a new habit you have to begin by developing mini habits. Things as simple as doing one push-up, drinking a glass of water, and/or prioritizing your three most important tasks can get you started down he road of mastering your habits. In Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less, author S. J. Scott writes:

The core idea behind the mini-habits concept is that you can build a major habit by thinking small enough to get started. Most people don’t need motivation to do one pushup, so it’s easy to get started. And once you get going, you’ll find it’s easy to keep at it.

From Counting To Retrieving

New research shows that as children age they engage different parts of the brain to solve math problems. Over the course of the study, children became faster at solving math problems when they engaged the hippocampus, which plays many roles in shaping memories, more than the prefrontal and parietal cortex, regions that are associated with counting. In adults, the hippocampus serves as a back up the neocortex, the location where adults consolidate most of their math facts.

Back to School

In honor of the first day of school for many, Drew Boyd gives us some helpful hints on tackling new subjects. When approaching a new subject one should:

1. Chunk It: Break big problems into smaller, more solvable problems.

2. Simplify It: Solve an easier version of the same problem to see how it works.

3. Draw It: Visualize the problem to see new ways to solve it.

4. Rearrange It: List the components of the problem and rearrange them to spark solutions.

5. Challenge It: What if your assumptions about the problem are wrong?


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