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How to Have the Second Brain to Remember More

How to Have the Second Brain to Remember More

Your whole life depends on you being able to retrieve things from your memory.

I’m sure you know what I mean… “Where are my keys?” “What major tasks do I need to complete today?” “What time is that meeting I need to attend?”

Questions such as these bombard our minds daily. If you’re able to recall the relevant information, you’ll keep your life on track. However, if you fail to recall the information – your life will start to move in a confused and unproductive direction.

We’d all love to boost our memories, but often we go about it in the wrong way. It’s not about how much information we can absorb into our minds, but how easily we can retrieve this information (which most people aren’t good at).

Information Overload = Memory Failure

We live in an information age, where our minds are besieged 24/7 by facts, figures, news, drama and trends.

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To maintain our standing among our peers, most of us strive in vain to keep up-to-date with everything from music to movies to politics.

It’s a never-ending whirlpool of information. And if you try to remember all of this information – you’re likely to find that your mind becomes so full that you begin to lose the ability to think clearly.

Information overload is a modern-day plague. And your memory is likely to be one of the plague’s victims.

For example, when you were younger, you may have loved to sing along with your favorite songs. Sadly, as you’ve grown older, you’ve started to forget the words to the songs. The more you try to recall the words – the further from your mind they seem to be. It’s frustrating, and has probably blighted a pastime that you used to love.

Could it be that over the years, you’ve tried to remember just too many songs? Perhaps.

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As you’ll see below, continually overloading your memory, can lead to recall issues and embarrassing social interactions.

It’s on the Tip of My Tongue, But…

It can be distressing when the flow of our conversation is blocked by our inability to recall information. And this can be especially traumatic if it takes place during a formal work environment.

For instance, imagine that you’re doing a presentation at work to some potential clients. You’ve created PowerPoint slides to guide you through your presentation, but the bulk of the message you’re hoping to convey is held in the memory banks of your mind. You start your presentation positively, but after a few awkward questions from one of the clients, you notice your confidence slipping – and your recall ability falling too! Suddenly, facts and figures seem out of your grasp. You’re stuttering, and rapidly losing the attention of the audience. To put it another way: you’re presentation has gone down the pan!

Storing tons of information in your memory is worthless if you’re unable to recall the parts you need – at the time you need them. Luckily, there’s a way to give your physical memory some much-needed breathing space.

How to Let a ‘Digital Brain’ Take the Strain

Our physical brains can only offer us a limited amount of memory storage and recall abilities. These limits used to be sufficient, but as mentioned earlier, we now live in an information age, where our ability to absorb and recall information has been stretched beyond our normal capabilities.

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What’s the answer to this problem? Well, you could start by giving some of this storing and recalling work to a digital brain.

By this, I don’t mean you should turn yourself into a cyborg. In fact, the only thing you’ll be turning yourself into is a super-efficient and productive version of yourself!

I’ve called it a digital brain, but you’ll know it simply as digital or online storage. And you’re sure to recognize some of the tools:

  • Airtable
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Google Drive
  • Pocket

The above software (and other similar ones) allows you to store, organize, and easily retrieve information. For example, Pocket lets you capture blogs, news and videos into a digital pocketbook. This is achieved through a one-click process. Once the content is within your pocketbook, you can retrieve and view it at any time. Clearly, this is far more efficient than trying to remember which stories you’ve seen earlier in the day – but hadn’t had chance to read/watch.

Instead of trying to remember everything with your physical brain, begin moving over some of the information to your digital brain. Whichever tool (or tools) you decide to use, you’ll immediately be able to take advantage of the following benefits:

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  • You can store as much information as you wish. (Free plans may offer only limited storage.)
  • You can easily organize and prioritize the stored information.
  • The stored information is available in an instant, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Compared to relying 100 percent on your physical brain, the addition of a digital brain will help you immensely. You’ll be able to determine what to store, what not to store, and when to retrieve information. You’ll also be able to use a digital brain to help you with your to-do lists and goal planning.

I personally use Google Drive for storing all my documents and images, and I use Todoist to help me manage my day-to-day tasks and workload. I’ve found using a digital brain to be liberating. Before, I used to stress over trying to remember everything – now my mind feels relaxed and free. I also have more mental energy for creative pursuits.

You may think that highly-productive people must be blessed with super-powered memories. For sure, some are, but most of these people are ordinary folks, with one difference… They have learned how to use a digital brain to help them store and retrieve information – and to organize their lives.

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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