How to improve your logical reasoning

All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others

man at crossroads between signs of emotion and logic

How logical thinking can help you

If we do not logically reason when faced with a problem we subject ourselves to fleeting, erratic or unpredictable emotions. Logical reasoning allows us to make rational decisions. It also increases our efficiency at finding resolutions to problems. For example, look at how the following large problem question is tackled logically;

Problem: “How do we solve global warming?” Large and overwhelming. But, what about if we break it into manageable chunks..

How do we reduce global carbon emissions by 2% every 6 months?” Ok, better.

Now what about, “What are the top three biggest contributors to global warming? How can we reduce their emissions by 2% every 6 months.” Even more specific, because it’s a smaller chunk. You can just keep going and going until you get chunks that you can digest.

So instead of thinking, “how can I solve this intractable problem?” try instead asking, “how many things cause this intractable problem?”  Then ask, how many things cause those problems. Eventually you will get to units small enough for you to make sense of them.

Techniques to improve your logical reasoning

An untrained mind should expect to master logical reasoning as much as an unpractised hand can master a piano. Here are the best methods to train your mind to logically reason;

1)  Try to differentiate between Observation and Inferences:

To improve your Logical Reasoning skills, it is important to differentiate between observations and inferences. Observation means using your senses such as hearing, seeing, smelling, touching to collect the required data or information. Inference is the conclusion we draw from that observation. Observation is more factual, whereas, inference is one’s opinion based on the observation. Similarly, try to differentiate between established facts and conjecturesFacts are things that are proved or believed to be true based on real occurrences, whereas, a conjecture is a calculated guess which is based on some prior knowledge or incomplete information. Once you have a clear understanding about facts, observations, inferences, your will be able to take better decisions.

2)  Make logical conclusions by thinking in conditional statements

Though it may sound silly, try to think in conditional statements and find causes and consequences of small and even insignificant facts. For example, let us assume that every time when it is snowing, it is cold outside. The sentence would say: “If it is snowing, it is cold outside”. In conditional sentences, if the premise (the first part of the sentence) is true, than the conclusion (the second part) is true also. Try to do that with other things to (If I drop my phone, it will break; If I do not eat, I will be hungry, etc), and constantly test if the relationship of the premise and the conclusion functions.

3)  Play card games

Challenging card games are not only fun to play, but they also improve your memory, focus and analytical skills.

4)  Read/watch murder mysteries

Reading/watching crime stories and detective novels requires logical thinking from readers. Try and solve the mystery before the author gives the plot away. A great tip is: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So eliminate the impossible and the solution may become clearer to you. Breaking codes (found on the web) is another great brain exercise.

5)  Try to recognise patterns

Pattern recognition skills are necessary to improve your logical reasoning skills. Pattern recognition strengthens your mental, spatial abilities and your IQ. You must have come across a sequence of numbers, where you need to guess the next number based on a certain pattern. For taking effective decisions and coming to accurate conclusions, recognizing patterns is crucial.

6)  Have basic analytical values

Try to ensure your thought process is underpinned by the following values: anticipating (thinking about what is ahead), critical thinking (question everything), interpreting (seeking patterns), deciding (coming to a conclusion), and learning (from your mistakes).

Important takeaway

Just as it is important to physically exercise, it is also crucial to keep your brain active with challenging tasks. Logical reasoning has been proven to increase your cognitive abilities, memory retention and overall I.Q. In the same stroke remember that lots of decisions have been taken intuitively and people have become very successful from following their gut. So, acknowledging the limitation of logic is just as essential as applying it.

For more information on logical reasoning read Sophie Smith’s blog on Easy ways to sharpen your logical thinking

Image courtesy of Chakrapong Zyn on Shutterstock

Emotional intelligence (“EQ”) and your ability to rule the workplace

An abstract picture depicting EQ

Numerous studies over the past decade have shown the significant connection between emotional intelligence (“EQ”) and high performance. In the first known study of EQ and work performance the US Air Force tested potential recruits for EQ abities – only hiring those with the highest degrees of EQ. Within the first year they reported a 92% cut to their financial loses due to higher employee performance and increased retention. A consensus of findings in the studies accumulated over the past years confirm that the most powerful EQ contributors to performance are:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Awareness of other’s feelings
  3. The ability to manage emotions
  4. The ability to be realistic and put things in perspective
  5. The ability to have a positive disposition and outlook on life

As you can see, people with high levels of emotional intelligence control their emotions rather than allowing their emotions to control them. A study by TalentSmart found that 90% of the best performing employees posses the ability to stay calm under pressure. If you combine all of the most powerful EQ factors you have one incredibly smooth individual who greets stressful situations with unshakable equanimity. No wonder individuals with high degrees of EQ are most likely to be in leadership roles.

The ability to manage your emotions is no easy task but with practice it leads to an increase in your EQ, performance and career sucess. When clients were surveyed in relation to the most desired skills of trusted business advisors emotional intelligence significantly trumped technical knowledge.

Here are four tips, which if practised regularly will increase your overall EQ and in turn promote career success

1)Keep things in perspective

We cannot control everything that happens to us but we can control how we respond to adverse situations. The best way to respond to a stressful circumstance is to ask yourself “what is the worst case scenario as a result of this situation?” This allows you to keep perspective and not loose yourself in a whirlwind of stress. More often than not the worst case will not be loss of life or limb and you will be able to respond in a way that can help to resolve your situation, instead of making an impulsive over reaction. By getting into the habit of instantly asking yourself the worst case scenario question when faced with stress you can avoid an inefficient meltdown.

2) Remain positive

The key to a positive outlook is having a positive mindset. A positive mindset is half the battle to finding a solution to a stressful situation. Instead of giving up when faced with a potential hurdle think “where there is a will – there is a way”. Another great reason to remain positive is because positivity is contagious! Instead of mourning with the rest of the team due to a workplace disaster, be the positive vibe that brings everyone up. Remaining positive in the eye of the storm is a key leadership skill and something that encourages others to rely on you.

3) Get off grid

Working 24/7 damages your body and brain. It’s just not possible to be productive when you never have a break. Research proves that productivity diminishes once you hit the 50 hour work week – so just don’t do it to yourself.

In today’s connected world it’s virtually impossible (no pun intended) to completely disappear –  so to really get off grid, you need to switch off your phone and computer. Doing this for a specific timeframe every day can have wondrous results for your work and mental health. Just try for one hour a day, for one week to feel the difference. Control technology rather than allowing technology to control you.

4)Breath

The importance of breathing properly is undervalued. The best way to stay calm is to practice breathing on a daily basis. When we breath properly it promotes oxygen to the brain, allowing us to think with clarity. By simply breathing properly in stressful situations we trick our bodies into thinking we are relaxed – this then triggers our bodies natural relaxation responses, calming our mind, allowing us to asses the situation objectivly instead of through foggy stress tinted glasses. It may seem simple but you would be surprised how tense we become in stressful situations and forgetting to breath properly is rife amongst stress heads.

5)Mindfullness

Just 6 seconds of mindfulness can make you more effective. The practice of mindfulness is now prescribed by the NHS to resolve stress related health issues which is ubiquitous amongst work professionals. Mindfulness focuses on developing a depth of self knowledge, the objective being self-mastery. When you can clearly and objectively see how you are triggered you can begin to effeictivley deploy emotional and mental strategies to skilfully navigate problem situations such as feelings of stress or anxiety.

This blog used the helpful insight of Dr Patty Ann Tubin, her blog on how to increase your EQ, published here.

Image curtesy of agsandrew published on Shutterstock.

 

 

Why minimalism increases your happiness and productivity

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Man holding a sign stating "keep it simple"

Why minimalism makes you happier

Being a minimalist isn’t just about throwing out your surplus physical possessions – its about minimising your schedule, your to-do list, getting clarity on your priorities and really being clear about who you are and what you want out of life. It’s the process of decluttering your mind. Once you experience the inherent benefits of living with less clutter, argues Gardner in his article Minimalism: A Happier, More Productive Way to live – you’ll have no reason to go back. In fact, you’ll realise your busy diary, the messy wardrobe and your extensive to-do list was just in your way of the truly  important stuff.

This way of living has changed the lives of many. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, have appeared all over US media and TED advocating the benefits of minimalist living. When asked why they chose this lifestyle they confessed;

“By incorporating minimalism into our lives, we’ve finally been able to find lasting happiness—and that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? We all want to be happy. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life – Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”

Why minimalism increases your productivity

For many the appeal of minimalism comes from the idea that your life can be simplified and streamlined without sacrificing quality. In fact, in terms of productivity minimalism is solely focused on quality over quantity. Olivia Derby in her blog The minimalist’s guide to productivity suggests that to truly reap the benefits of minimalism in your work day you have to be really comfortable with the idea that more does not equal better. She continues, the minimalists guide to productivity starts with a simple theory – a lot of the items on your to-do list do not need to be there. By simply focusing on your most important goals you can start to spend more time on the things that actually matter and produce higher quality work. Here are a five pointers on how you can incorporate the minimalism way of life into your work

1) The real to-do list

It’s time to put your to-do list on a rigorous, cut throat diet. We all have extensive to-do lists but in reality they are burdened with trivial, irrelevant tasks that takes our attention away from the important stuff! To really minimalise your to-do list you need to clearly identify what your goals are. This will allow you to cut tasks that are irrelevant. Try drafting an overriding objective that encompasses your goals and place this it at the top of your to-do list. For example, at work this might be to “increase sales by 200% and increase client contact by 25%.

Having your overriding objective above your list –  not only enables you to easily source tasks that are irrelevant but it also helps you to start saying “no” to additional tasks that do not support your goals. And saying, “no” is one of minimalism’s most valuable skills.

2) Batching

A lot of the tasks we do are repetitive. For example, marketers will need to send a few tweets a day which can be batched with tools like Hootsuite. Batching is simply the act of combining similar tasks and completing them in one sitting. Figure out which tasks on your list can be batched and then plan your schedule accordingly.

3) Set your MITs

Derby, advises starting the day by organising your top three MITs (Most Important Tasks). For low energy days, when realistically you’re not going to power through your to-do list as quickly as you may have hoped, think of the three MIT’s as your “minimum viable product” and at least you can be rest assured that these three tasks got completed – if nothing else.

4) Cut out distractions

Daily, many of us will come across unplanned distractions that urge us to forget the task at hand. This is increasingly likely to be tech related for example social media – which has impacted our brains so vastly that we now have shorter attention spans than Goldfish. Obvious ways to avoid these distractions are to turn off phones but it does also require will power to succeed!

Less obvious distractions are things like multi-tasking. The issue is many people believe they are being productive by juggling several tasks at once. However, studies prove that multi-tasking is  one of the most inefficient ways to work – it actually makes us more unproductive!

One of the best strategies for increased productivity is to identify once task and block out everything else whilst completing it for one solid hour. This “power hour” is minimalist by nature and really works – read why here.

5) Flexibility

The minimalist mindset allows you to under-book your day and be prepared for any unexpected bigger commitments. Building flexibility into your schedule is key for innovation and creativity. Don’t feel guilty about slightly straying from your schedule – it can be when industry evolution happens.

To find out how you can incorporate minimalism into your life check out http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/

Image curtesy of enciktepstudio’s on Shutterstock.

 

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