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How to Boost Human Memory From 8GB to 300GB With a Second Brain

How to Boost Human Memory From 8GB to 300GB With a Second Brain

Human brains are overwhelmed by facts, figures and endless information. It’s no wonder that most people have problems remembering things.

Every day our brains try to process 34GB of information, and every day our brains have about 50,000 thoughts.[1] It’s enough to make your head spin. Even if you believe that you have a good memory, you’ll still be unable to remember everything you see, hear or think. It’s not humanly possible.

For the vast majority of us, our brains are unreliable for memory tasks. Just try thinking about what you did yesterday. You’ll be able to recall the major events, but what about casual conversations or the food you ate. Can you recall everything in detail? Most likely, you’ll find that your memories are vague and imprecise.

Human Minds Have Become Overwhelmed

It’s a sad fact of life, that as human civilization has advanced – the more each of us need to remember.

If you were to travel back in time to live with primitive man, you would find life was simpler. Your memory would only be needed for interactions with your small social circle, animals and nature. At that time, knowledge was all about the essentials of how to live safely and securely.

Thousands of years later, we’re now living in an information age. While this has brought many advantages, it’s also brought a requirement for individuals to remember more and more. This includes complex languages, social and legal rules, historical facts and figures.

When we were young, we were taught the importance of memorizing things. This could include learning the multiplication table at school, a musical instrument in an evening, and studying religion on a weekend. In other words, even as little children, our brains are bombarded with information that we need to store in our memories – and recall at the appropriate times. I talked about this in my other article You’ve Been Using Your Brain Wrong: Human Brains Aren’t Designed to Remember Things

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    If you’re over the age of 40, you’ll recognize the above, but you’ll also say that your brain was able to cope with all the knowledge and information that came your way. And you’d be right. However, when the internet was launched in the early ’90s, a tipping point of information overload occurred.

    Suddenly, we needed to remember and digest tons of new information in order to survive. To take just one example, how many online usernames and passwords do you have? It’s probably dozens, and if you’re like most people, you’ll struggle to remember all the combinations.

    Let’s be honest, human memories are far from perfect, and it’s impossible to remember everything in today’s age.

    Is there a savior to end our memory woes? Yes.

    Your smartphone, laptop and tablet can offer much more than just calling, texting and social media. With the right tools installed, you can free your human brain and make you life easier and more efficient.

    As the title of this article suggests, a “second brain” could be just what you need. But what exactly is this? It’s an external brain that stores all the information you need to know and remember.

    The good news is that this second brain can be utilized through your existing smart devices. Because this external brain is so handy, I’ve personally nicknamed it the “pocket brain”.

    Let the Second Brain Give Your Memory a Much-Needed Boost

    With your very own pocket brain, you can give your human brain some breathing space, while at the same time boosting your ability to store and recall information.

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    When it comes to memory, our brains are typically no better than an 8GB USB storage device. However, with a pocket brain, you’ll immediately get a 300GB memory boost. You’ll also have easy, instant access to all the stored information.

    The electronic pocket brain is much more accurate at memorizing information than our biological brains. Words, images, and sounds, no matter what kind of information you need to memorize, a pocket brain can store it accurately and efficiently. Human memories, on the other hand, tend to be blurry. You may recall the general picture of something, but you’ll usually struggle to recall all the minute details.

    When you store information in a pocket brain, you free up room in your brain to do and think other things. You may not have realized it, but it takes significant human brain energy to process information, and to think and create things. If you have to waste this valuable brain energy on memorizing things, you’ll have less energy to work on ideas and problem-solving as I talked about in my previous article How Clutter Drains Your Brain (and What You Can Do About It)

    I don’t want to overload your brain with too much information in this article, so let’s cut straight to the meat of the matter. I’d like to recommend to you three great apps that I use to remember important things.

    First up…

    Airtable: organize and store information perfectly

      For example, you can easily enter than names of books you’ve read, movies you’ve watched, trips you’ve planned or products you plan to buy. These will appear in the app as a collection of books, movies or products. This has the immediate benefit of making your lists clear and organized.

      However, there’s much more to the app than just that. For each book, movie or product, you can enter additional information such as page lengths, movie directors and product specifications. There’s also space to add your thoughts and feelings about each item.

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      As you’d expect, once your content is in the app, you can perform pinpoint searches to find it.

      Sign up for Airtable here and install Airtable on your phone here.

      Evernote: jot down notes anywhere, anytime

        You’ve probably heard of this app, but you may not have tried it out.

        Its primary selling point is it’s amazing ability to let you jot down notes anywhere, anytime. These notes may consist of hand-typed information, images, or even links to webpages.

        Once you start to fill Evernote with data, you’ll be able to categorize and tag the information according to their purposes.

        For instance, if you’ve created several notes on possible hotels to stay at, you could categorize these under vacations, hotels or travel. You get to decide the categories and tags, making Evernote a very personal tool. The categories and tags make the retrieval of information super fast and super easy.

        Install Evernote in your phone here.

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        Fantastical Calendar: never forget important events any more

          I’ve talked a lot about information, but of course a major memory stress for many of us is remembering important birthdays, events and meetings. A paper calendar can certainly help with this, but it can be lost, damaged or left behind.

          Fantastical Calendar is an app and website that you can access from your smartphone, computer or tablet. Just like a paper calendar, you can write down important dates for the coming week, month, year, etc. However, Fantastical Calendar is way more powerful than its paper equivalent. You can use it to set reminders and alarms for important things, as well as setting up recurring events.

          For example, I often struggle to remember to pay some of the monthly or annual fees. With Fantastical Calendar, I cannot only have all the days correctly marked, but I can also set up reminders that tell me a few days in advance that I need to settle the payments.

          Fantastical Calendar has simplified my life, and I’m sure it can do the same for you.

          Install Fantastical Calendar here.

          Make Using the Pocket Brain Become Your Second Nature

          While a pocket brain can be an indispensable tool, you may find it hard to break your lifelong habit of trying to remember everything with your human brain. As you probably know – building a habit is no walk in the park.

          If you need help with habit building, take a look at our recently-published article How to Program Your Mind to Kick the Bad Habit and start to build a habit of storing information in your second brain. I also recommend this useful app Productive to help you adopt the new habit.

          Your human brain energy is too precious to be wasted on information overload. Instead, let the pocket brain sweat the small stuff and free your mind for greater things.

          Featured photo credit: Free Photo via pixabay.com

          Reference

          [1] SUBLIMINAL PRO: 50,000 Thoughts a Day

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on November 18, 2019

          How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

          How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

          Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

          Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

          How do we manage that?

          I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

          The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

          How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

            One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

            At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

            After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

            • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
            • She could publish all her articles on time
            • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

            Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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            1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

            When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

            My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

            Use this time to:

            • Look at the big picture.
            • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
            • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

            2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

            This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

            It works like this:

            Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

            By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

              To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

              Low Cost + High Benefit

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              Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

              Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

              High Cost + High Benefit

              Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

              Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

              Low Cost + Low Benefit

              This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

              These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

              High Cost + Low Benefit

              Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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              For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

              Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

                After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

                  And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

                  Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

                  Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

                  What to do in these cases?

                  Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

                  For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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                  Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

                    Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

                    The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

                    By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

                    And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

                    Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

                    Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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                    Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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