Ended: April 14, 2013
Your "frog" is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment. The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else. Think of this as a test. Treat it like a personal challenge. Resist the temptation to start with the easier task. Continually remind yourself that one of the most important decisions you make each day is what you will do immediately and what you will do later, if you do it at all. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn't pay to sit and look at it for very long. The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. You must develop the routine of "eating your frog" before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it.
1. Make a list of all the key goals, activities, projects, and responsibilities in your life today. Which of them are, or could be, in the top 10 or 20 percent of tasks that represent, or could represent, 80 or 90 percent of your results? 2. Resolve today that you are going to spend more and more of your time working in those few areas that can really make a difference in you life and career and less and less time on lower value activities.
1. Review your list of tasks, activities, and projects regularly. Continually ask yourself, "Which one project or activity, if I did it in an excellent and timely fashion, would have the greatest positive consequences in my work or personal life?" 2. Determine the most important thing you could be doing every hour of every day, and then discipline yourself to work continually on the most valuable use of your time. What is this for you right now? Whatever it is that can help you the most, set it as a goal, make a plan to achieve it, and go to work on your plan immediately. Remember the wonderful words of Goethe: "Only engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin it, and the work will be completed."
Then other work suggested that even if it did exist, the effect may have nothing to do with the special properties of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, and could in fact be associated with the general feelings of happiness produced by this type of classical music. For example, in one study researchers compared the effects of Mozart’s music with those of a much sadder piece (Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for Organ and Strings), and found evidence that, once again, Mozart had more of an effect than the alternative.5 However, when the research team conducted a control experiment about how happy and excited the music made participants feel, the alleged “Mozart” effect suddenly vanished. In another study, psychologists compared the effect of listening to Mozart with that of hearing an audiotape of Stephen King’s short story “The Last Rung on the Ladder.”6 When participants preferred Mozart to King, their performance on the mental manipulation task was better than when listening to the piano concerto. However, when they preferred King to Mozart, they performed better after they had heard his story.
The results showed clear IQ improvements in children who had been taught keyboard skills and given voice lessons, whereas those given drama lessons were no different than the control group. Why should this be the case? Well, Schellenberg believes that learning music involves several key skills that help children’s self-discipline and thinking, including long periods of focused attention, practicing, and memorization. Whatever the explanation, if you want to boost the brainpower of your offspring, perhaps it is time to take that Mozart CD out of the player and get the kids to start tickling the ivories themselves.
In 2006 American economists Liran Einav and Leeat Yariv analyzed the surnames of academics working in economics departments at U.S. universities and found that those whose initials came early in the alphabet were more likely to be in the best-rated departments, become fellows of the Econometric Society, and win a Nobel Prize.9 Publishing their remarkable findings in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, they argued that “alphabetical discrimination” probably resulted from the typical practice of alphabetizing the names of authors of papers published in academic journals, which meant that those with names toward the beginning of the alphabet appeared more prominent than their alphabetically challenged peers.
Research shows that people with surnames that begin with a letter toward the beginning of the alphabet are more successful in life than those whose names begin with letters toward the end. Obviously, the potential for choosing a successful surname is limited, unless you are prepared to change your name or, if you are female, to marry a man whose surname falls toward the start of the alphabet. However, with respect to choosing a child’s first name, other research can provide a helping hand. Names with positive connotations, royal associations, or those that sound especially attractive are all good bets. Finally, do not underestimate the power of initials. Avoid creating a set of initials that make a word with negative associations, and help to ensure exam success by going for names starting with the letter A or B.
It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to make children feel good by praising their abilities and talents. However, research shows that such compliments can have a detrimental effect and that it is far better to focus on the children’s effort, concentration, and organizational skills. So, for example, when your daughter gets a good exam grade, recognize how hard she must have studied, how well she organized her homework time, and how good she must have been at performing under pressure. Similarly, when your son wins a place on the school football team, praise his ability to train hard and work well with others. This kind of praise encourages effort, resilience, and persistence in the face of failure. To help children focus further, consider asking reflective questions about the techniques and strategies that they used (“What parts of that did you enjoy the most?” or “How did you deal with any problems that came up?”), and try to make the praise as specific as possible (“You played well at football today,” rather than “You are good at football”).16
The Marshmallow Test It is easy to do the marshmallow test with your own children and friends. Find a food that they like and offer them the option of a small portion now or a larger portion if they sit and wait for about ten minutes. If you are going to do this quick and fun assessment, make sure that your guinea pigs can see the small and large portions of food throughout the test. Mischel’s research suggests that the experiment is most effective when people are continuously tempted by the sight of their favorite food! Heads and Toes During this game, children have to touch their toes when they hear the phrase “Touch your head,” and touch their head when they hear the phrase “Touch your toes.” To play, explain the rules to your child and give them a couple of practice sessions. Then randomly say the phrase “Touch your head” or “Touch your toes” and award 2 points if the child makes the correct response without hesitation, 1 point when they start to make the incorrect response and then correct themselves, and 0 points for an incorrect response. Try a list of ten commands and see how they score. On average, three-year-old children tend to obtain 3 points, four-year-olds score about 10, and five-year-olds get about 14 correct. If your child does not score within this range, don’t panic! It is perfectly normal for children to get a range of scores, but a low score may indicate that he or she could benefit from some of the games described below.
Together these factors, collectively referred to as the “Big Five,” represent the holy grail of personality research. The five dimensions have been given different labels over the years, but are commonly referred to as openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (easily remembered by using the acronym OCEAN). Each dimension is seen as a continuum that runs from high to low, and everyone can be described by five scores that indicate where they sit on each scale. Additional work has shown that the dimensions are determined by a combination of genes and childhood experiences and they tend to remain unchanged throughout a person’s life, and thus influence almost every aspect of behavior including relationships, performance in the workplace, leisure activities, consumer choice, religious and political beliefs, creativity, sense of humor, and health.
Brain scans have revealed that people scoring low on extroversion have a high pre-set level of arousal. As a result, they avoid situations that further arouse their stimulated brains and are most comfortable when they are engaged in quiet, predictable activities. The exact opposite is true of those who score high on extroversion. Their brains have a much lower pre-set level of arousal, so they have a need for continuous stimulation.
Some researchers believe that the relative length of your first and third fingers provides considerable insight into your psychological and physical abilities. To quickly assess yourself, hold your left hand palm up in front of you and look at the length of your first (index) and third (ring) fingers.
thinking.18 Questionnaire results from more than 350 people showed that morning types are attracted to concrete information rather than abstract thinking and like to rely on logic rather than intuition. They tend to be introverted, self-controlled, and eager to make a good impression on others. In contrast, evening types have a far more creative outlook on life, are more prepared to take risks, are more independent and nonconforming, and are a little impulsive.
Develop the Gratitude Attitude. Having people list three things that they are grateful for in life or three events that have gone especially well over the past week can significantly increase their level of happiness for about a month. This, in turn, can cause them to be more optimistic about the future and can improve their physical health. Be a Giver. People become much happier after even the smallest acts of kindness. Those who give a few dollars to the needy, buy a small surprise gift for a loved one, donate blood, or help a friend are inclined to experience a fast-acting and significant boost in happiness. Hang a Mirror in Your Kitchen. Placing a mirror in front of people when they are presented with different food options results in a remarkable 32 percent reduction in their consumption of unhealthy food. Seeing their own reflection makes them more aware of their body and more likely to eat food that is good for them. Buy a Potted Plant for the Office. Adding plants to an office results in a 15 percent boost in the number of creative ideas reported by male employees and helps their female counterparts to produce more original solutions to problems. The plants help reduce stress and induce good moods, which, in turn, promote creativity. Touch People Lightly on The Upper Arm. Lightly touching someone on their upper arm makes them far more likely to agree to a request because the touch is unconsciously perceived as a sign of high status. In one dating study, the touch produced a 20 percent increase in the number of people who accepted an invitation to dance in a nightclub and a 10 percent increase in those who would give their telephone number to a stranger on the street. Write About Your Relationship. Partners who spend a few moments each week committing their deepest thoughts and feelings about their relationship to paper boost the chances that they will stick together by more than 20 percent. Such “expressive writing” results in partners’ using more positive language when they speak to each other, leading to a healthier and happier relationship. Deal with Potential Liars by Closing Your Eyes and Asking for an E-mail. The most reliable cues to lying are in the words that people use, with liars tending to lack detail, use more “ums” and “ahs,” and avoid self-references (“me,” “mine,” “I”). In addition, people are about 20 percent less likely to lie in an e-mail than in a telephone call, because their words are on record and so are more likely to come back and haunt them. Praise Children’s Effort over Their Ability. Praising a child’s effort rather than their ability (“Well done. You must have tried very hard”) encourages them to try regardless of the consequences, therefore sidestepping fear of failure. This, in turn, makes them especially likely to attempt challenging problems, find these problems enjoyable, and try to solve them on their own time. Visualize Yourself Doing, Not Achieving. People who visualize themselves taking the practical…