Halloween is just around the corner, and with it comes that age-old question: “Trick or treat?” It’s usually reserved for children collecting candy, but with a little creativity, it can apply to your critical thinking habits. Follow these suggestions to boost your brainpower for Halloween! Share your own “trick or treat” ideas in the comments.
Trick your brain into seeing everything through a critical thinking lens. Once you’ve started to develop a problem-solving system that works well for you, the best way to reinforce it as a habit is to use it whenever you can!
For instance, let’s say that this morning you spent a great deal of time analyzing a political article in your local newspaper, evaluating the arguments and drawing conclusions based on what you read. When you go to the grocery store later that night, why not practice that same critical thinking strategy? Sure, the stakes might not be as high. But it takes just as much consideration, evaluation, and thought to decide whether to buy local, organic apples or “conventional” apples.
Treat yourself for a job well done. Whether you’ve come to a conclusion about your apple purchase, or you’ve decided which congressperson to vote for in November -- it’s important to recognize your thinking accomplishments!
The sky’s the limit when it comes to rewarding yourself for your successes. Be sure to keep things rational: finishing a thoughtful report for your supervisor probably doesn’t justify treating yourself to a new Corvette. But it certainly sounds like reason to grab a piece of chocolate out of the office stash, or take a quick break to watch a goofy cat video. Students can use rewards to really push themselves: a C on that big exam might earn you a milkshake, but an A is worth a night out at the best sushi bar in town.
Trick yourself into focusing on the task at hand. In today’s tech era, there are plenty of apps and programs that have been designed to do exactly that. Some software will block distractions. Other apps help you to keep a regular work/break rhythm. You can even make working easier on your eyes and easier on your ears.
Treat yourself to some time off every once in awhile. When discussing various types of self-reward, Harvard Business Review author Alexandra Samuel emphasized the value of “regenerative” rewards. Samuel pointed out that by “rewarding yourself in a way that recharges your body and brain, you’ll give yourself more energy to tackle your next task or project.”
To jump into these “regenerative” treats, pick a healthy habit that you’ve always wanted to explore, but have never quite been able to commit. If meditation, yoga, stretching, or walking are healthy and positive habits you’ve been meaning to develop, it’s time to get started. When you “hit a wall” on a project or task, take a break and try a “regenerative” reward to push forward.
Samuel, Alexandra (2015). How to Trick Yourself into Doing Tasks You Dread. Harvard Business Review. Accessed 11 October 2016 from https://hbr.org/2015/01/how-to-trick-yourself-into-doing-tasks-you-dread.
Links to different productivity apps
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