Think of a moment in your life that is indelibly etched in your memory. It likely was very brief in duration, often less than 60 seconds, but easy to recall. It could have been something wonderful or horribly frightening. When your brain is fully aroused, you never forget the experience. Stimulated brains retain information. Since better attention equals better learning, it is easy to see how multitasking decreases retention.
We pay attention to the things that we have learned are important to pay attention to. Consider the experience of scientist Jared Diamond, recorded in his book Guns, Germs and Steel. He relates his experience in the New Guinea jungle with native New Guineans. While they may seem ignorant at tasks that are easy for us, they have incredible skills that we lack. They have the ability to detect subtle distinctions in the jungle, they know how to find food and what insects to leave alone. They can build a shelter with ease. Different cultures pay attention to different details in the environment.
What can you do to help your brain retain more of the information that you want to be able to access later? START SOMEWHERE today with one of these suggestions:
- Create an interruption-free zone for yourself for a period of time each day. Turn off all media, including the television, computers, and cell phones. This is tougher than you think!
- Divide your tasks into bite-size segments. Give yourself a time limit and concentrate on only one thing. When I am intensely studying, I set a timer for 30 minutes. For that period of time, I focus on the task at hand. It flies by and I can accomplish more in less time without distractions. Then I take a break!
- Write down what you want to remember. The act of writing the information helps connect it more solidly in your memory.
- When you are spending time with someone, turn off your phone and be fully engaged in the conversation.
Recent neuroscience research tells us that we retain what our brains pay attention to. When emotion is attached, we learn even more. Multitasking decreases retention. LIVE YOUNGER by doing only one thing at a time. You can do it. I will help you.