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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

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          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Published on January 16, 2019

          How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

          How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

          We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

          You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

          You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

          That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

          Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

          1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

          Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

          We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

          To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

          At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

          The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

          2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

          Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

          The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

          In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

          It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

          It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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          So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

          • Are you a great strategist?
          • Are you an effective planner?
          • Is Project Management your strength?
          • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
          • Are you the ideas person?
          • Is Implementation your strength?

          Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

          3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

          One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

          Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

          Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

          Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

          4. Take Time for Planning

          “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

          One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

          You can take the time to think about:

          • What’s the purpose of the project?
          • How Important is it?
          • When does it need to be delivered by?
          • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
          • What are the KPIs?
          • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
          • Who is working on this project?
          • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
          • What tolerances can I add in?
          • What are the review stages?
          • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

          Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

          5. Focus on Priorities

          Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

          Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

          One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

          1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
          2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
          3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
          4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

          James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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            The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

            If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

            If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

            6. Take Time Out

            To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

            If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

            Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

            In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

            Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

            7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

            Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

            I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

            Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

            If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

            8. Stop Multitasking

            Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

            So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

            When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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            If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

            9. Work in Blocks of Time

            To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

            I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

            Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

            Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

            Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

            Then take another 10-minute break.

            Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

            By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

            10. Get Rid of Distractions

            Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

            “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

            Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

            If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

            11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

            You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

            Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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            Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

            12. Take a Time Audit

            Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

            Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

            You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

            Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

            Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

            At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

            If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

            13. Protect Your Confidence

            It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

            When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

            Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

            When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

            Final Words

            A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

            The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

            If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

            Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

            Reference

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