The Concept of Brain Management

I recently had the opportunity to hear Mark Tigchelaar speak at the #GTDSummit in Amsterdam.  Mark is a Neuro-psychologist and author of five books.  He specialises in understanding how the brain works and how to leverage this to get more things done.  I thought I’d share my summary of his talk here.

It’s not about Time Management; it’s about Brain Management

Most people don’t understand how their brain works, and overburden their brain as a result. It’s like swimming against a current. Not surprisingly, more than one million people in the Netherlands now suffer from work-related stress. It is important to understand how your brain works so you can be less distracted and do your work with less effort. It’s not time management, it’s brain management!

Mark ran through several true-or-false questions / statements to help the audience understand better, how their brain works.

Q: Can we train remembering?

A: True. Yes, we can train our memory. There are championships in remembering. Understand your brain and you can maximize its capacity.

Q: We are only using 10% of our brain.

A: False.  We are using 100% of our brain, and this is also the reason why we are also very easily distracted. Your brain thinks faster than you experience things. When you increase your reading speed it stimulates your brain and then you have less space in your brain to think about something else. If you move too fast you might miss some information but if you move too slow, your brain will find something else to think of. 

Q: Switching your mind, your focus, it takes a minute to recover.

A: 240 times a day we are interrupted in what we are doing. How often does your own mind actually interrupt you? Around 500 times! For the brain there is no difference whether the distraction is internal or external. It’s way more difficult to manage your own brain than it is to control external distractions and interruptions. 

Q: Listening to a podcast is a great way to recharge your brain.

A: Listening to a podcast is nota good way to recharge your brain. To recharge your brain you need two factors being present: One, no new information and twoyour mind should be allowed to wander off. A really good way to recharge your brain is by taking a walk (without headphones!)

The amount of information to our brain is subjected to on a daily basis is equal to 174 newspapers!  So how to deal with all of this information?  We either forget most of it, or we need to write it down. The only way to get things done, and not overburden our brain, is to write it all down – make notes of important stuff and then process it.