Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain Paperback – Feb 16 2006
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"Mind Performance Hacks" is an entertaining and rewarding read for anyone interested in improving the way they use their brain. Many of the hacks are really a framework upon which to build your own systems... The techniques are inspiring and practical." Gavin Inglis, news@UK, June 2006
About the Author
Ron Hale-Evans is a writer and game designer who earns his daily sandwich with frequent gigs as a technical writer. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Yale, with a minor in philosophy. Thinking a lot about thinking led him to create the Mentat Wiki at http://www.ludism.org/mentat, which led to this book. His multifarious and nefarious other projects can be accessed from his home page, http://ron.ludism.org, including his award-winning board games, a list of his Short-Duration Personal Saviours, and his blog. His wife Marty is a better man than he is.
Top Customer Reviews
Sounds "interesting". And the O'Reilly "Hack" series of which this is a part IS a phenomenal resource for computer geeks. The book covers ground from meditation through mind mapping to mnemonic systems. Should be great, right?
But as I read it, I realized I'd already read most of it before, somewhere else. I guess I was expecting new stuff, but the book is, to a large extent, a compilation of stuff you already know, put in one place.
Part of the problem is that the "Hack" series has a certain standard of excellence, a sense that you're getting the latest cream off the top of the bottle.
This stuff isn't cream, it's milk, and skim at that ... but then again, having a couple or three psychology degrees myself, I remember that there ISN'T any cream to be had in this subject area.
I guess you can't blame the author for that. But my brain, far from being overclocked, kinda slowed down as I read this baby.
On the first day of reading, I used number sixteen to reorganize some of the information I had gathered for another book--the method was a completely unexpected and welcome find.
One of the things I like most about "Mind Performance Hacks" is the variety presented. As well as the obvious cognitive subjects--remembering things, calculating things, and organizing things--other less left-brained methods are given, including instructions on meditation and self hypnosis.
It is a wonderful collection and very useful to come back to when needed, so I heartily recommend it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The table of contents is not shown by Amazon, so I list the table of contents/hacks here:
Chapter 1. Memory
1. Remember 10 Things to Bring
2. Use the Number-Shape System
3. Make Lots of Little Journeys
4. Stash Things in Nooks and Crannies
5. Use the Major System
6. Use the Dominic System
7. Visit the Hotel Dominic
8. Dominate Your Memory
9. Memorize Numbers with Carroll's Couplets
10. Tune In to Your Memory
11. Consume Your Information in Chunks
12. Overcome the Tip-of-the-Tongue Effect
Chapter 2. Information Processing
13. Catch Your Ideas
14. Write Faster
15. Speak Your Brain's Language
16. Map Your Mind
17. Build an Exoself
18. Pre-Delete Cruft
Chapter 3. Creativity
19. Seed Your Mental Random-Number Generator
20. Force Your Connections
21. Contemplate Po
22. Scamper for Ideas
23. Deck Yourself Out
24. Constrain Yourself
25. Think Analogically
26. Enjoy Good, Clean Memetic Sex
27. Play Mind Music
28. Sound Your Brain with Onar
29. Keep a Dream Journal
30. Hold a Question in Mind
31. Adopt a Hero
32. Go Backward to Be More Inventive Going Forward
33. Spend More Time Thinking
34. Extend Your Idea Space with Word Spectra
Chapter 4. Math
35. Put Down That Calculator
36. Make Friends with Numbers
37. Test for Divisibility
38. Calculate Mental Checksums
39. Turn Your Hands into an Abacus
40. Count to a Million on Your Fingers
41. Estimate Orders of Magnitude
42. Estimate Square Roots
43. Calculate Any Weekday
Chapter 5. Decision Making
44. Foresee Important Problems
45. Predict the Length of a Lifetime
46. Find Dominant Strategies
47. Eliminate Dominated Strategies
48. Don't Overthink It
49. Roll the Dice
Chapter 6. Communication
50. Put Your Words in the Blender
51. Learn an Artificial Language
52. Communicate in E-Prime
53. Learn Morse Code Like an Efficiency Expert
54. Harness Stage Fright
55. Ask Stupid Questions
56. Stop Memory-Buffer Overrun
Chapter 7. Clarity
57. Learn Your Emotional ABCs
58. Avoid Cognitive Distortions
59. Use the Fourfold Breath
61. Hypnotize Yourself
62. Talk to Yourself
63. Interview Yourself
64. Cultivate the Naive Mind
65. Employ Mental Momentum
Chapter 8. Mental Fitness
66. Warm Up Your Brain
67. Play Board Games
68. Improve Visual Attention Through Video Games
69. Don't Neglect the Obvious: Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise
70. Get a Good Night's Sleep
71. Navigate Around the Post-Lunch Dip
72. Overclock Your Brain
73. Learn the Facts About Cognitive Enhancers
74. Snap Yourself to Attention
75. Assemble Your Mental Toolbox
Some (most) of the tips aren't that original mnemonics and linking object to memorable visual images aren't new. Some of the math skills are the sort of thing most people pick up in grade school. Also, the problem solving methods outlined are rather crude.
But; they are the kind of tips we may "know" but don't apply. Some (a few) of the tools / techniques were new to me and very valuable.
OK; after such a critical start why give the book five stars? This book is unusual, it groups useful techniques and tools for creative thinking into one short guide. Although the techniques outlined may be simple they are highly effective.
The writing style is informative without being patronizing. I read this book cover to cover in four sessions; it was as interesting to read as most fiction.
The author references source material very well and provides references for further exploration of the topics covered.
In answer to my original question, "who is this book for?", just about everyone should be able to take away something positive from this book. Good preparation for exams such as GMAT and SATs. Also, good tips for staying sharp into old age (have to wait and see whether they work or not).
the "hacks" of particular importance to you at the moment.
I did read the entire book though because it was so fascinating and helpful.
The first chapter was somewhat of a disappointment since many of the memory hacks
only fit with a natural ability for visual or musical talent, which I don't have. And 1 or 2 of the
hacks were so complicated that you'd have to need to memorize a huge volume of material to make
it worth while to work hard at the hack to get good enough to find it useful. This is certainly not the
fault of the author since he was only letting you know about the hack.
But I loved chapter 2 on information processing, especially the map your mind hack. I've done mind maps
before but this book mind it more "how to" to really assimulate the information. It also had a hack for speedwords
that looks very useful which I hope to implement soon.
The Math chapter was also helpful if you need to develop more of a "feel" for numbers and get to an
approximate answer quickly.
The book has a nice format. Each hack starts with a brief overview. Then the In Action section explains
the details. Then the How It Works section explains how your brain is using the hack. The In Real Life
section gives an example of how the author used the hack. Finally, the hack ends with lots of external
references to web sites and other books.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a non-technical understanding of
how their brain works and how to get more out of it. If you are a creative person and need to get more
out of your thoughts, this book is for you. If you are an analytical person and need to make better decisions
or be more intuitive about numbers, this book is for you. If you are just curious on a few hacks to have better
recall, this book is worth getting. I bet you end up reading the whole book, like I did!
Content: Memory; Information Processing; Creativity; Math; Decision Making; Communication; Clarity; Mental Fitness; Index
In this book, you'll find 75 hacks/tips/tricks that you can use to take your memory, focus, and concentration to a new level. Some are complex and require some practice, like #5 - Use the Major System. This is a series of mnemonics that you can use to help remember large numbers of related and unrelated items. There are also alternatives to that system, such as the Dominic System (#6). Either way, you may find that something like this can help you dramatically improve your "remember-y". Other hacks are more in line of making changes in your lifestyle that will affect your cognitive abilities, such as #70 - Get a Good Night's Sleep and #71 - Navigate Around the Post-Lunch Dip. Simple steps you can take to avoid mental pitfalls. I particularly enjoyed #27 - Play Mind Music. I finally understand why I find that I can't listen to a podcast and program at the same time. Very good stuff...
You won't adopt and use every one of these hacks, nor does the author intend you to do so. But you can think of this as a toolbox that you can use to improve your performance and understand things that often are unconsciously occurring to us on a regular basis. A very good read...
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