Believe it or not, there are better ways of doing regular day-to-day things.
From a young age we are all taught the same methods of getting through daily tasks, the same way of reading, the same ways of writing, and the same ways of walking and even sleeping.
Social conditioning is a powerful persuader. It's easy to do something without questioning when everyone else does it as well.
But often the 'normal' way of doing things isn't necessarily the best, as I've previously written in my Conformist Commandments article. Inertia is our worst enemy, and when we become complacent in our lives, we also become aware of the annoying mental effort it takes to stop doing things the old way, and to re-think the way we live, applying something new.
Social conditioning along with inertia create a powerful recipe for a conformist lifestyle, preventing any type of change, growth or improvement to make our life better.
These are six examples of doing things differently that I have implemented into my life and found to enrich and improve my daily activities. I hope a few of these catch your eye!
1) The Dvorak Keyboard - A More Effective Way Of Typing.
In 1936 Dr. August Dvorak patented a new keyboard layout. This layout uses less finger motion, as well as increases typing rate, and reduces errors compared to the standard QWERTY keyboard we all are habituated to using. Unfortunately at the time, keyboards were predominantly used on typing machines that often jammed due to the speed of writing with the Dvorak layout. So the QWERTY layout was created with the specific intent of slowing typists down to avoid key jams.
Fortunately for us, all major operating systems (Windows, OS X and Linux) support the Dvorak layout and with the addition of a few stickers to your keyboard learning this new layout becomes a breeze.
2) How To Read 300% Faster.
We were all taught to read more or less the same way when we were little. We begin from the left of the line, and scan word by word while vocalizing the word inside our heads (it's called "subvocalizing"). This was necessary when we were first learning how to read, the words were alien to us and we needed some form of structural pattern when reading. However as we grow older, reading doesn't have to be methodical. There is no need for linear reading - sometimes it's necessary to re-read certain parts (like beautiful prose) while others you can just skim over if you get the idea being presented (like convoluted texts).
Not only that, subvocalizing is obsolete once your brain can register words at sight rather than through sound, so it creates additional fixation time. But using a 'pointer' to focus your eyes can eliminate a lot of that fixation time. Many more tips can be found in this great Speed Reading article, or better yet try this book: Breakthrough Rapid Reading.
3) How To Tie Shoelaces That Won't Untie. Ever.
The "Bunny Rabbit Around The Tree" system is what most of us have been taught. But have you ever considered that this method might be wrong? After all, how often do you find your laces coming undone or the process too time consuming? Ian Fieggen is the type of guy that has wet dreams about knots and laces.
In fact, he has even developed several different ways to tie your shoe laces for many different goals in mind. My particular favourite is his 'Secure Shoelace Knot' that in the time I have used it, I have never had any loose lace dilemmas. You might be the type of person that's more interested in speed rather than security in case you hear the ice cream truck driving by, in this case he also has the 'Ian's Fast Shoelace Knot' . Simple, but extremely effective.
4) Sleep Diets: Sleep Less, Feel More Awake.
Haven't you ever had the wish that you could have more time in your day to do all the things you want to do? I first read about sleep diets from a blogger online called Uberman who claimed he only slept 2 hours a day! He did some research into sleep, and found that of the 5 sleep phases that happen during normal sleep, only one is absolutely vitally important. It’s the 5th phase, called REM (rapid eye movement). Uberman removed all non-essential sleep for several years, and only keep the REM, which is your dreaming phase. Doctors found no health problems, and he claimed to have an amazing increased alertness.
It takes about a week to condition your brain to enter REM as soon as you fall asleep, and Uberman accomplished this by having 20 minute naps every 4 hours. As I researched more into this, I found he wasn't alone. Technically it's called Polyphasic Sleep, and it's meant to increase your alertness by compressing your sleeping time. You don't have to go to these extremes, however, in contrast to Monophasic sleep which is what most people do, and Polyphasic Sleep, which I've just mentioned, there is also Biphasic sleep which means breaking down your sleep into two stages.
I had the advantage of being brought up with the Spanish way of sleeping, basically it's Biphasic - we use a 'siesta' sleep as our mid-day anchor sleep to stay awake until the early hours of the morning.
5) Walk More Efficiently With The Namba Aruki Walking Style.
Namba Aruki was the running style of the message deliverers between two towns during the Japanese Edo Period (1603-1868). In a nutshell, the Namba Aruki walking style makes your upper body more stable, keeps your hips straight forward as you walk, makes you more controlled, and doesn't require you to lift your entire body with your feet, making your walking movements more efficient overall.
Here is an intriguing video of it in action (sec 0.24), and an article on Namba Aruki with a link to the Step-By-Step guide. The fierce non-conformist won't mind looking like a constipated duck with this technique, because they'll be floating through life!
6) Think Differently And More Creatively With Mind Mapping.
A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It's a visual aid to help structure information, so you can analyse, understand, synthesize, recall and most importantly, create new connections that further your creativity.
The beauty of mind maps is that they allow you to think in a non-linear way. Similar to the flaw in the standard reading method, we treat our thought process as if one thought were the stepping stone to the next, reducing our ability to focus on the interconnectedness of ideas.
With a mind map, we can visually see an array of points and ideas surrounding our main topic of focus, and create connections that wouldn't necessarily 'logically' fit together at first. This is because the process of mind mapping engages two sides of our brain: our analytical side (left hemisphere) along with our artistic side (right hemisphere). Mind mapping is ideal for writing down your understanding of a general concept as well as coming up with loads of new ideas and connections.
These are some beautiful examples of mind maps. Wikipedia also introduces you to the basic idea behind creating one, and you can also try some free online resources like MindMeister or FreeMind, a free open source software for your computer.
These are just some of the countless ways to make routine actions more interesting and different. Did any catch your eye? Have you got any to share? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo by: Heather Katsoulis