The Experts' Guide To 100 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do

The Experts’ Guide To 100 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do

Be Your Best

Samantha Ettus has recently released an interesting new book with a good concept. For The Experts’ Guide To 100 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do, she convinced the world’s leading experts to offer their insights on how to perform everyday tasks – from improving your vocabulary and telling a joke to smiling for the camera and sleeping well.

Two excerpts:

Make an Educated Guess
By Stanley H. Kaplan, founder of Kaplan, Inc, a leading test-preparation company

Think about how many educated—or not so educated—guesses you’ve made in real life. We constantly find ourselves making decisions based on limited information. The techniques I’ve developed for standardized tests are just as applicable to making educated guesses in real life. Following are some simple rules for making sound guesses.

Rule Out Obvious Distractions. Part of making a good guess is ruling out obviously bad choices. Let’s say you’re trying to decide what to get your in-laws for their fortieth wedding anniversary. Without knowing much about their personal tastes and preferences, you can eliminate many choices. Rap concert tickets or a toaster are probably both bad ideas. If they’re old enough to be celebrating their fortieth anniversary, they probably don’t like popular music, and are likely to have already accumulated several toasters over the years that are now in storage. Eliminating the wrong choice is the first step on the way to deducing the right one.

Observe Carefully. You are at the airport and you run into an acquaintance, but you can’t remember this name. Before you take a wild guess, look for clues. For example, a luggage tag on his bag may reveal his name, or at least his initials. Pay attention to the details, or you risk missing the tip-off.

Look For Patterns. The way things have gone in the past is often your best indication of how they will go in the future. If last Saturday night your favorite restaurant was packed because the movie theater crowd next door had just poured out, chances are this Saturday will be no different. Notice past patterns, and you’re on your way to a smarter guess today.

Use Occam’s Razor: The Simplest Explanation For A Phenomenon Is Usually The Right One. It’s late April and your business hears from the IRS that your tax forms and payment have not been received, yet you are certain that you sent them in. While you could entertain a scenario in which your business competitor intercepts your mail as a means of getting you in trouble for failing to pay your taxes on time, it’s a lot more likely that the post office of the IRS lost or misplaces your mail. When in doubt, don’t fall for the fancy, convoluted answer. Simpler is usually right.

Use What You Know. You usually know more than you think. Even the most basic facts will take you far. If it is April and you’re in a college town seeking a quiet place to meet a friend for a drink, it’s clear you’re better off trying a bar far from campus than the one across the street from the main gates. Remembering that universities empty out over the summer will help you know that when June hits, your best bet is now a place close to campus. “Common knowledge” can take you uncommonly far.

Complete certainty is a rare luxury in life. We are usually guessing, and an educated guess is the best we can do.

Speed-Read
By Howard Stephen Berg, the world’s fastest reader and principal of associatedlearning.com

The average individual reads only about 200 words per minute. Yet you read the road in a car at speeds nearing 70 mph while simultaneously monitoring dashboard instruments, listening to the car radio, making cell calls, or carrying on conversations with passengers. All this is done effortlessly. So why do we read text so slowly when we read the road so quickly? The answer to this question holds the solution to higher reading speeds.

When reading the road, your eyes take in all the information as a movie. When you read a book, your brain converts the word-pictures into sound bites as a “little man” in the back of your head pronounces each word aloud. Reading is the only activity in which you use your eyes to hear, rather than see, information. We need a technique to make reading a more visual experience.

Using hand motions can quickly increase your reading speed by making your eyes view text more visually. Hand motions also help overcome several habits that can slow down reading speed—habits like visual regression or repeating interesting information. Visual regression occurs when the eyes continually go back to read words or phrases that have already been completed. It might sound like this in your brain when visual regression is acting out: The…The dog…The dog ate…The dog at a bone. Interesting information is pleasurable, and your brain desires pleasure. If something you read was funny, or interesting, it is tempting to read it again to reexperience the pleasure. Unfortunately, this is done at the expense of your reading speed.

Visual regression—and the temptation of repeatedly reading the same information—can quickly be overcome by the proper use of the hands during reading. In an orchestra, the conductor uses his baton to coordinate the musicians. While speed-reading, your hands perform the role of the conductor’s baton. They move your eyes rapidly across the page. Here are two simple steps to begin increasing your reading speed by using hand motions:
1. Place your fingers at the start of a line, and quickly move them toward the right margin.
2. Make certain that your hand moves completely across the page from margin to margin.

There are three possible ways to coordinate your eye-hand motion:
1. Your hand can lead your eyes across the line of text by moving in front of your focus.
2. Your hand can push your eyes across the line of text by staying behind your focal point.
3. Your hand can underline text with your eyes focusing directly above your hand.

Experiment to find the position that feels best for you.

Now that you can control your eye movements using your hand, you are ready to begin dramatically increasing you reading speed. Here’s a simple 4-minute exercise:
1. Set a clock to beep after each minute.
2. Read for 1 minute at your peak comprehension rate.
3. Read at double your comprehension rate for 1 minute. You will not be able to comprehend text during this minute, but you will be making your brain work harder so it can read faster during the fourth minute.
4. Read at triple your comprehension rate for 1 minute. Again, you will not be able to comprehend text during this minute.
5. Read at your peak comprehension rate. Amazingly, you will be reading faster—and with comprehension!

Excerpts reprinted with permission from The Experts’ Guide To 100 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do, published by Clarkson Potter, September 2004. Available at your favorite online or local bookseller.