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When it comes to performance, knowing how to work is as important as doing the work! And, everyone can work easier and better!

Like a trained athlete, craftsman, or pro in any field, technique makes a difference! Have you or someone you know ever missed a nail and hammered a thumb instead? Or lost focus and whiffed the ball? Or spent hours, even days, on a writing or learning task only to get a disappointing review or grade? More know-how is surely needed!

Whether you’re a student or a parent helping others, know-how gets results! And, when it comes to thinking and learning, these 8 simple strategies avoid mistakes, increase focus, and promote achievement for all.

1. Start with the Best End in Mind

Begin by thinking of the goal and the intention. Big or small, every task has an end point. The way you say you will get there matters! If the goal is just to do a math assignment and get it in on time, for instance, you’re set up to slog through to the end with fast or clock watching efforts. But, if your goal is to get better at a type of problem, or practice a method, or even just identify the number of steps, you’re ready to investigate and expand your knowledge. In short, you’ve created relevance, motivation, curiosity, and a go forward drive!

2. Create a Thinking Brain

Your best work comes when you’re alert. So, take care of your mental space. That gray matter is biology, and it needs just what the healthy body requires. Eat nutritious food, exercise, drink water, and sleep enough. Before starting a task, get a healthy snack, hydrate, put aside all other jobs, and take care of personal needs. Get the energy your brain needs!

3. Reduce Distractions

Distractions cause confusion and stop progress. We all do better at a work station that supports thinking. So, create a professional space. Make a place where it’s easy to write: have a comfortable chair, right height table or desk, good lighting, and all the tools and technology that will make the job easy. And, set up a quiet zone.  Turn off devices (TV, cell phones), put off chats and social media until later, and ask others not to interrupt you. All that makes thinking-time time spent thinking!

4. Engage the Mind

To perform well, the mind has to actually think about the task. That means making sense as you mentally move from one point to the next. To get the mind to engage that way, do something to guide those thoughts. Take notes on information. (Hint: recording items by hand creates stronger memories than typing). Ask questions. Instead of repeating what the task presents, start with a what, why, or how question that fits the material.  You could ask “what’s the point,” “why is this so,” or “how does this work?” Then search for the answer. Q & A creates on-target chunks without extra effort!

5. Be the Cheerleader on the Side

Everyone gets an energy boost from the cheers of others. Give them freely to others and to yourself. Quick short statements are all you need. Put in a lot of “you’ve got this,” “you did that well,” “great effort,” “you’re making good progress,” “wow, that’s well done,” or “good job!” A positive thought is a mental accelerator!

6. Praise Often But Carefully

Praise works and yours matters! But make sure to praise what you want to expand. Focus on good effort, concentration, organization, and attention. Praising high scores often backfires. To many, that means you’re smart when you do well and dumb when you don’t. So, cheer on the effort and progress, not the score!

7. Bring the Rewards

Work isn’t very interesting or even worthwhile without rewards. Mix up short and long term as well as internal and external rewards. Breaks with things like food or friend chats can keep you going during a long or challenging task. Even smiley faces work for every age. Bigger and future rewards like social occasions and awards work for longer tasks, as long as you really get and enjoy them. But, the best rewards are those that make us feel better. Praise from ourselves and others lasts a long time! It makes us feel like winners and keeps us motivated!

8. Use What You Gain

Practice can make perfect (if it’s well done). But knowledge is power! Using new information, skills, and techniques in real world tasks makes permanent what our efforts reaped. And then, we simply do know more. And there’s nothing better than feeling smarter than you were before!

In the End…

So, here’s the know-how that will improve your results right away:

  1. Start with the Best in Mind
  2. Create a Thinking Brain
  3. Reduce Distractions
  4. Engage the Mind
  5. Be the Cheerleader on the Side
  6. Praise Often but Carefully
  7. Bring the Rewards
  8. Use What You Gain

In short, IN-Powered© know-how is the way to get your best results!

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About the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)

The USDLA, a 501(c) 3 non-profit association formed in 1987, reaches 20,000 people globally with sponsors and members operating in and influencing 46% of the $913 billion. U.S. education and training market. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking, and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-K-12 education, home schooling, higher education, and continuing education, as well as business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets.