Friday, November 29, 2019

The Learning Mindset - The 1-50 Game

This is a game that came to me on WhatsApp as a forward. There are 25 numbers on the screen randomly placed and you as you touch each number it disappears and new numbers appear after 25 until all 50 show up in that box of 5x5. The key is to do it as fast as you can of course and the game says if you do 50 in 70 seconds and over, you are old. 20-30 is a liar, 30-40 is an expert and 40 to 50 is average and so on. I tried it first some six months ago and found I was in the old category. Try as much as I did I could barely come under 50.

One day I asked 12 year old Anjali to do it and she quickly did it in 43 seconds. That blew my mind. With zero practice. Then I realised that age certainly had its effect on eyesight, coordination etc. I watched her doing it and found that the first thing she did differently was to hold the fingers away and punch the numbers with both thumbs - as all teenagers do when they text. I was using my index finger of my right hand only. So I changed that and tried. A slight improvement and I hit the low 60s. Still far to go.

Over the next six months, I experimented continuously on it whenever I had some free time to see if I could crack the code. I realised that there was a way I was holding the phone where some numbers got hidden which was dumb - I can't find things I cannot see. Then I realised that I was getting tense when I missed something and my brain would go into a freeze mode. I was missing numbers that were sitting right in front of me, right next to the number I punched.  Also when I went tense, I could sense my body getting warmer, my breathing stopping in concentration, and I used techniques to focus on breathing etc to be less tense. I realised there was a connection between the tension in my body and my ability to concentrate. Then I realised that the tension in my body also affected how my fingers moved - many times randomly without any clear direction - just hope.

With some practice, I lowered myself to the 50s.

But I knew there were times when I was in a good state of mind (the zone) when things happened without too much jumping around. There was a way I looked, the mind was 'set', that helped in getting better times. My times got into the 40s which was a huge achievement and as I practiced some more I realised that there were times when I hit the low 30s too which was incredible. Those were times when the mind and body seemed to be in sync.

That was the key.

I realised that the mind was going faster than the body and was sending confusing signals to the body, so my eyes would be searching all over and my hands would be twitching and however hard I punched the keys, the numbers would not go beyond the 40s. Then when I slowed my body down (basically stopped twitching and jumping around) to the pace of the mind - and then I seemed to have hit the golden spot. This is where I consistently hit the 30s. 36, 34 and my personal best of 32 even.

The big learning - to get faster results, I had to slow down and move my body deliberately, after it got the signal from the brain. The key was to slow down my hand movements. Secondly instead of punching the keys, to merely touch them gently. The third thing was to get an overall view of the screen and not jump all around with my eyes. This 'sight' is what I have not yet perfected but with practice I think I will get that.

Now I can hit the 30s once in 4-5 times, in a relaxed mode, which is way better than my earlier manner.

The other day I checked with Anjali and she was disappointed that I got a 30s score and she got a 40s. She practiced a few times and hit a 30s score. What took me six months, she could do it in a couple of tries. But then that's the power of youth for you. However, I did learn that we can teach an old dog some new tricks too if we keep at it!

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