Besides his successful work on optogenetics, treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and some other scientific discoveries, Edward Boyden is known as the author of 10 rules “How to Think”.
These rules are based on his teaching experience. Preparing one of his courses he worked out the system for deep, creative, fruitful thinking. These rules have become popular not only among students but
with the broad public as well.
10 Rules by Ed Boyden:
1. Never read passively.Synthesize new ideas, make notes and comments, visualize while you read. This way you will be able to think deeply and your mind will become more creative.
2. Quick learning is easy.We live in the time of high speeds. Everything is changing very quickly, the
science is developing rapidly, and new information and discoveries appear every day. That is why it is important to delve into any topic quickly. A habit to learn something new all the time and understanding of how your brain works let you generate promising ideas, develop your skills properly and respond promptly to your brain overload.
3. Work backward from your goal.It is common practice to make a to-do list to achieve some goal.
Why not to work backward from it? It will direct your efforts at attainment of the desired goal. For example, learn the specificity of work in the area of your dream and start your internship there rather than save money for general education.
4. Planning, planning, and planning!It is important to focus on a long-term plan, as contemplated
actions let gain experience regardless the result.
5. Contingency map.Draw all the things you need to do on a big piece of paper. Find out which things depend on other things. Then, find the things that stand aside, but the overall result depends on them. Finish them first.
6. Collaboration develops.As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Communication with
people means not only a fresh perspective on the situation from the outside but also outside competence and expertise which may come in handy.
7. Mistakes are normal.Do not grieve over every mistake you made; get through these situations quickly. Make the most of the mistake, analyze the situation quickly, learn the lesson and move on.
8. Document your success.Write down your best practices. The next time a similar problem will be
solved with ease. Make your conscious brain control an instinct.
9. A promising idea is a recorded idea.Make sure you record all emerging ideas; otherwise they have
few chances to get implemented. Of course, some discoveries are spontaneous, but they are preceded by little signs in the form of small ideas coming out of the blue. If you want to invent something, write down
everything important for us, all your observations and ideas and analyze them from time to time.
10. Everything is much simpler than it seems.Never refuse an idea if it seems utopian or impossible at
first sight. Be sure to spend several days for mapping out a simpler plan of its implementation. In the course of work try to consider past failures of those who have tried implementing something similar. At times, a couple of hours spent to study the works of predecessors can substitute for several months in the
Edward Boyden also recommends learning time management. In his practice he uses logarithmic time planning, in which things that happen tomorrow should be scheduled down to the minute, things that happen next week should be scheduled down to the hour, and things that happen next year should be
scheduled down to the day.
Besides, he finds useful to write and draw little pictures in his notebook while talking with someone. This helps him sum up the overall conversation, highlight the most important moments and immediately record the ideas that came up. At the end of the conversation he takes a photo of these notes and loads them into the computer. It helps him can call up all details of even a five-minute meeting years ago.