Tag Archives: performance

Over years as an entrepreneur, author, and publisher of (now-defunct) SUCCESS magazine, Darren Hardy has relentlessly studied and dissected the habits of the most accomplished people on the planet. He can attest that the secret to success isn’t much of a secret at all: practice. However, the kind of practice that drives stratospheric levels of accomplishment and excellence is extremely specific. Deliberate practice requires tremendous commitment and structure over time. But no other path takes you to even the chance of doing your very best when it matters. How do you know if you are practicing properly? Hardy described four essential steps to attacking deliberate practice: You must be motivated to attend to the task and exert effort to improve your performance. The design of the task should take into account your pre-existing knowledge so that the task can be correctly understood after a brief period of instruction. You should…

Read more

Did you hear that SAT Scores from the graduating class of 2015 were low this year? In fact, total scores in all 3 sections are the lowest they’ve been in decades. Should we panic? Don’t worry… there’s always time to freak out later. For now, let’s tackle the question that’s perplexing the pundits who breathlessly exclaim that SAT Scores Continue Troubling Downward Slide, but No One Knows Exactly Why. I’d like to share three possible reasons:   EXPANDED POOL OF TEST TAKERS Rumors of the SAT’s imminent demise have been slightly, or perhaps prematurely, exaggerated. A record 1.70 million students from the class of 2015 took the SAT. A higher percentage of students than ever were either underrepresented minority students and/or used fee waivers. We should be encouraged, rather than despondent, that the testing pool now includes so many more students that did not traditionally pursue enrollment in four-year colleges…

Read more

We’ve all heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” In fact, most of us are guilty of repeating that old bromide, typically to encourage some extremely imperfect activity. Nonetheless, this hoary oyster holds within a pearl of pure truth. Neuroscience tells us that practice makes perfect because of myelination. Our incredible brains never stop changing, which can be a bad thing depending on how we invest or squander our time. As they say, you are what you do, thanks to myelination. Everything we think, say, or do involves the firing of long chains of neurons in our brains. Myelin is an insulating tissue that forms a layer or sheath around the axon of a neuron. Apparently, myelin develops along neural pathways that fire over and over, and its function is to increase the speed of neural impulses along these pathways. In essence, the more we perform a certain task, the faster…

Read more

Let’s be honest: most of our productivity issues can be linked to mismanagement of time. If you want to do your best in school, sports, tests, art, or anything else, you need to manage your scarce seconds, minutes, hours, and days like a boss. Take some tips from our 12 Days of Time Management for Teens:   Work your Flow Our previous recommendation to plan your days as if you’ll need more time to accomplish each task assumes average productivity. In fact, a smart schedule allows for occasional substandard performances, sanity breaks, and general lollygagging. But every once in while, lightning strikes and suddenly our best work emerges effortlessly… and quickly. Imagine work, meaning everything you are responsible for in a given day, as a river. We float downstream at our usual pace, speeding up and slowing down depending on what currents we catch. Sometimes all we can do is…

Read more

Sleep and learning are inextricably linked. Albert Camus understood the connection: “Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.” But the sleep you catch up on in class is not going to get you to your best grades or test scores. Instead, how and when you hit the pillow exerts a tremendous impact on your performance the next day. The Motherlode blog at the New York Times explored the concept of tailoring sleep patterns to desired outcomes. In essence, the author suggests the following: Facing a trivia contest, spelling bee, or test based on memorized information? Go to sleep early to get as much Stage 1 deep sleep as you can. Deep sleep is when the brain consolidates new information. Facing a big sporting event, performance, or test based on practiced physical skills? Sleep late enough to enjoy sufficient quantities of Stage 2 sleep. Stage 2…

Read more

Have you ever experienced one or more of these symptoms? No spontaneous thought An intensified, fixed, internalized awareness An expansion of especially clear awareness into ambient space The disappearance of the bodily self A distinctive closing off of all sight and sound A deep, blissful serenity A marked slowing or cessation of respiration Don’t worry: you weren’t abducted by aliens (I hope).  Instead, you attained that elusive and magical state of flow that only comes from total absorption. Some associate this state with the deep internal absorption that comes from skilled meditation. Others refer to it as the Coder’s High. But you don’t need to live in Tibet or work in Silicon Valley to find this bliss. The flow state finds us when we are fully absorbed in accomplishing a complex and worthy task. Great works of art may be immersive but not truly absorbing unless we’re creating them. The flow state is…

Read more

66/66