Learning Quickly from Productivity Blunders

Abacus Learning

Being productive is a learning process. Instinct will not carry you into an ideal schedule, workflow, or life management system. Along the way to achieving your productivity goals, you’re going to make mistakes. Instead of turning those mistakes into reasons to berate yourself, turn them into learning and growing experiences to learn the productivity ropes faster and to keep yourself adaptable.

Recently Jonah Lehrer wrote an article for Wired called “Why Do Some People Learn Faster?” In the article he discusses the reasons why some people learn more quickly than others.

Fast Learners Think Positively

The first trait of fast learners that Lehrer highlights is the fact that individuals who learn quickly have a “growth mindset”—that is, the belief that you can get better at anything you try, provided you practice and learn. This is in direct opposition to a “fixed mindset,” which indicates that you have certain smarts and skills and there’s nothing that will markedly change that one way or another.

If you think of your disorganization as an inherent piece of your personality that can’t really be changed, it’s going to be difficult for you to learn to be organized. If instead you think that you’re a disorganized person, but given time and practice you can be better, you’ll learn faster. It seems pretty obvious, but science backs it up too. That mindset difference can work wonders on your success.

Fast Learners Want to Learn

The second highlighted trait is an emphasis on effort. Lehrer cites research that tested children on a series of puzzle tests that varied in difficulty. Students who were praised as “being smart” when they did well tended to shy away from more difficult problems; students who were praised for their effort eagerly took on challenges and returned to easier tests with an expanded ability. The effort students focused on working hard and improving while the smart students focused on looking good.

If you’re focused on being seen as a productive, efficient individual, you might end up too paralyzed to try new methods, take new risks, or accept mistakes. Instead, focus on what you can learn from each experience. For example, let’s say you have a week with six major deadlines and half your family is in the hospital. That week will try any system or sanity that you have. Instead of expecting yourself to be perfectly productive the whole time, focus instead on what you can learn from that harrowing week. Either way you won’t come out unscathed; you may as well learn something while you’re at it.

Learning for Life

The students and study cases Lehrer mentions were in controlled environments so scientists could isolate which factors made the difference between different groups. However, the same principles apply in the milieu of life. Although your circumstances are far from controlled, you can learn to have more control yourself when you keep a positive outlook and focus on learning.

Image by nuchylee via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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