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Christopher Columbus knew it – do we?

Christopher Columbus knew it – do we?

Christopher Columbus had his plan of exploration in mind for years before the actual event. His problem was that he had to wait for the right time as well as the right people, money and technology to catch up with him.

We all know that the most critical step in the process of completing a project is the planning phase. Planning is the foundation of a project and ultimate success depends on the depth, details and flexibility of your planning efforts. Planning a simple birthday party or a voyage to a new world requires many of the same processes. Planning must address who, what, when, where, why and how. It must also address the resources that you control in terms of time, money, technology and people. Planning always requires that one consider the restraints that are imposed on the project. Here are a few considerations for successful planning.

Planning has to consider the time element and identify the critical points in the project. A birthday party that occurs a month after the celebratory date will probably not achieve the right outcome, likewise a voyage to a new world cannot occur until the vehicle used for transport is ready. Columbus had to wait for the proper political timing as well as the opportunity to take advantage of the technology involved in construction of a new type of ship called a caravel . It is imperative that the planning cycle consider either the time that the event must occur or the length of time that is necessary to accomplish all the tasks that are entailed in the project. Our birthday party has a date certain and we can use backward planning to establish the key dates when events must occur. The cake cannot be ordered a month before the event nor can it be ordered the day of the celebration. The voyage to a new world had to have a target date set so that all events that occurred were timed in a sequential manner that enabled the journey to proceed based on a schedule.

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Money is always a critical consideration in successful planning endeavors. Even the most wealthy of people or nations have constraints. For our birthday party we will probably have some budget in mind. How much money will be spent on the cake? Will we rent a facility for the event or will it occur in a home? Will we buy balloons or party favors? All incur some expense. Likewise it is easy to imagine the expense of planning Columbus’ trip. The questions here are more complex. What will be sacrificed to pay for the voyage? Will there be money for maintaining the military force? It is easy to imagine the role of money in the planning process.

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The availability of technology is also an important part of the planning process. Technology impacts the decisions we make about something as basic as a birthday party. Are invitees going to fly to the celebration? Will we email the bakery about the details of the cake? Can a virtual birthday party occur over the Internet? The technological challenges in planning the voyage of Columbus were numerous. The trip would probably not have been successful without inventions such as the astrolabe and caravel as well as advances in cartography.

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People are the final consideration in planning. Some of the questions that must be addressed in planning are: How many are available? What skills do they possess? When do I need them?

This short article about planning highlights some of the considerations that are essential for success. It is hoped that it will shed some light on your planning endeavors and serve as an aid as you plan for events in your future. Columbus became an expert as he journeyed through the obstacles to success.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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