Getting smarter takes time and genuine commitment. You need to work hard at it. Knowledge builds up, like compound interest says Warren Buffet. And he couldn't have said that any better. You get to cash in when the time is right. All of us can build our knowledge but most of us won’t put in the effort.
We all differ in our abilities to solve problems, learn, think logically, understand and acquire new knowledge, integrate ideas, attain goals, and so on. But when you put your mind to it, you will work better, smarter and faster. Intelligence is always work in progress so you are never too late to add to what you already know.
These are a few small habits that can make you better, smarter and faster at what you do.
1. Be curious about almost everything. Some people are naturally curious and others are not. Your learning does not stop at school, college or your job. There is nothing that can beat a curious mind. “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein
2. Subscribe to a knowledge source from where you can learn something new daily. This could be blogs, websites or online courses that can broaden your horizon. Read expert opinions about topics of interest on Quora.
3. If you don't have time to read most articles or posts, use Pocket to save those for later reading. Make the effort to read a few of those daily. Otherwise you may just be saving them without benefiting from them.
4. Use the free time you get at work to learn something new each day which is relevant to your work. You can make a list of things you want to learn each week and make a conscious effort to actually learn them each week.
5. Make a list of things you want to achieve in next month or by close of the year. Example I want to become a great marketer in ten months or I want to launch my side project in six months time. Prepare another list to keep track of what you are doing to reach that goal.
6. Start writing down your thoughts. Try to come up with at least 5-10 ideas everyday or week about industries that are important to you and you can do solve a problem in that space. It doesn't have to be a long piece. Put your note taking app to use.
7. You can join online courses at Coursera or Udemy. Don't overload yourself with too many courses though. Your goal should be to learn something new everyday. Do it for the fun of it and the opportunity to know new ideas or things. Focus on topics you are curious about.
8. Surround yourself with smarter people. Talk to anyone else you find interesting. Approach them. Make your intentions clear. Learn from them. The trick is to always be with people who are smarter and more knowledgeable than you.
9. Try a new better, faster or smarter routine. It pays to break some of your routines sometimes. Try consciously breaking one of your habits, just for a moment. Eat a different breakfast. Take a different route to work. Sleep in the opposite direction. Read fiction. Get out of your comfort zone once a while.
10. Expose yourself to different world views. Be genuinely curious about other cultures, languages or how things are done differently by others. Different cultures could have a big positive effect on your own ideas.
11. Embrace opportunities to discuss. When you are in a debate you should try to persuade, but welcome opposing ideas not as attacks but opportunities. Debating forces you to examine your opinions.
12. Begin to ask questions. Asking questions and questioning everything around us constantly is what makes us smarter. There's nothing wrong with not knowing the whys or the hows! Everybody has something that they don't know.
13. Be agile and respond to change. Don't allow yourself to think you've got it figured; you never will. Always change, always continue building your mental worlds. There is always a better way to get something done no matter how good you think you are, always compete with yourself and improve upon what you already have.
14. It pays to listen. One of the most underrated skills in the world is the art of listening. Listening is free and also it helps you improve your dynamics of thinking as you are giving your mind a chance to look at things from different point of view.
15. Learn random new things. You never know what will be useful ahead of time. You just need to try new things and wait to see how they connect with the rest of your experiences later on. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future," -Steve Jobs