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Physical skills

Surprising as it may seem, some physical skills can be very helpful for computational work.

Much of your research will require that you work with computers. If you can invest the time to learn the following skills and habits, you may find them surprisingly helpful.

  1. Type with ten fingers.
  2. Use motor memory for good passwords.
    (add link) 
  3. Use blank slates and computers appropriately.  
    For completely new ideas the initial design is usually still done best on blank paper or whiteboards of the right size. Learn the skill of using free form to efficiently explore how radically different initial ideas may turn out. Once you know where you want to go, clean up, refine and revise at the computer. This combination is extremely efficient.
  4. Use your best working time effectively.
    Whether night-owl or early bird: know at which time of the day you can work best and use it efficiently to get the most important things done. 
  5. Stay awake, fit, healthy, efficient.
    Find out, what keeps you awake, fit, healthy and efficient: enough sleep, food, exercise, etc. Your analytical skills degrade if you are too tired. Avoid burnout!
  6. Learn how to read.
    If you don't read for the sake of reading, learn how to pick what you read, what specifically you are looking for, how to not be distracted and how to find a good physical environment that supports your focus. If you are in danger of forgetting the key points of what you read, you may want to use a system that can help you remember (e.g. take notes; in this course we will explore the use of Evolvix 'InfoBlocks' for this purpose).
  7. Ergonomics.
    Learn how to avoid the typical computer injuries: back problems, repetitive strain injury, etc. Find yourself a long-term desk of appropriate height (bricks can work wonders!), an ergonomic chair, light, keyboard and mouse. Your back will thank you in a few years. 
  8. Write 30-60 min every day.
    Many professional writers find it extremely useful to write for 30-60 min in the morning, when the brain is not yet distracted by the clutter of the day. They also find that the quality of your thoughts improves a lot by the mere exercise of writing them down. The weekly ReLogs and other writing tasks that are part of this course are an excellent opportunity for establishing this habit. Once you have established it, who knows what you will continue to write after this course? You may find it helpful to find a regular space at which you can write well. After all, the most important condition for being able to write something, is to show up and do it.
  9. Write down ideas when you have them.
    Really good ideas do not necessarily show up when we need them. Also, many of them don't come with big fanfare and are not well fleshed out. It is easy to discard them and forget that we ever had them. Training your intuition (see emotional skills) can help you recognize good ideas when they come. But if you have a less than perfect memory and you don't write them down while still fresh, they easily get lost before you get a chance to find out how good they are. Keeping such a log may also surprise you in showing, how many of your new ideas had occurred to you before.
  10. Guard your state of flow.
    Learn to recognize when you are in the incredibly productive single minded state of consciousness that has been described as 'flow'. Make an effort of getting into flow. When in flow, protect yourself from being disrupted by any electronic or other distractions. This will increase your productivity a lot. These links may help.