Monday, March 2, 2015

Bringing the Brain Up to Speed

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There are always going to be things competing for our time or attention. Some people like to organize their lives by spending less time on the mundane and more time on the good stuff. The important not the merely urgent. But it seems there’s always room for improvement – who doesn’t want to have more fun?

A recent article in Fortune by Laura Vanderkam offered some tips from neuroscientist Daniel Levitin on how. Levitin explains that part of the problem is that our brains are stuck in the hunting and gathering age due to the slow pace of evolution, so we have to find ways to bring it up to speed.

His suggestions (with some personal perspectives):
  • Give things a place to reduce the amount of mental energy you spend trying to find things again. Keys on the hook, cellphone by the door. Freedom within a framework.
  • Create triggers to help you snap out of auto-pilot. Modern technology helps. Set reminders on your cellphone to chime at certain times or in certain locations – so you remember to buy milk when you’re at the store instead of before or after.
  • Keep track of your networks. Don’t rely on your brain to remember the names of people you meet or the things you talked about – it’s not always up for the job. Our ancestors had smaller social circles. Make a note.
  • Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t indulge in this nonsensical multitasking behalf….where 3 things get done averagely (at best) simultaneously.
  • Don’t agonize over things you can’t change.
  • Finally, sleep. It’s one of our biggest weapons for cognitive success. Get enough of it.

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