In the world full of information and advice, there is an overload of motivation and yet not many actually do something to change. There are motivational quotes, speeches and even workshops. In reality not many of them focus on the fact that motivation is just the first step to create a lasting change. Very often motivation ends when we encounter some initial difficulties. So, what should we do to be able to manage them easier, to improve life or work more effectively? How can we learn in a way so that 90% of our new knowledge will not be lost within a year? The answer is easy – work with nature, work with your brain.
In current times we spend more money on training, development and self-improvement than ever before. There is just one major problem with the whole industry – it doesn’t take an effective design into account. Majority of training offered focus on the curriculum itself and not effectiveness. Training designers are not utilising brain’s capacity which wastes a lot of money spent on development. So, if you are after building memories, developing new habits, make sure you choose a trainer, a coach or academy which incorporates some of the neuroscience research findings and latest techniques.
Our brain contains parts that play a vital role in learning and storing new information. People that do not work with the brain, are initially working against it creating frustration and a feeling of resources being lost. We all remember these days when we were studying for an exam and just could not memorize a required part of the material. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we knew how to learn, so we not only had fun while doing it, but also shortened the time necessary to posses new knowledge? We believe each school or training centre should have the skills to create programs or courses and schedule that would have all the above factors incorporated.
HOW DOES ONE WORK WITH BRAIN
Many will jump at the sight of these names: hippocampus, amygdala and the basal ganglia. They all are parts of our brain and play an important role in learning. Hippocampus is responsible for the initial step of taking in the information and then moving it into our memory. We turn it on the moment we focus our sense of sight or hearing, when we open our eyes or ears. It is then that the above structure starts collecting information and recording it. This part is referred to as phase locking and is the very starting point of all learning. It is important for us to focus and hence a cult of multitasking is slowly dying. Switching between a few activities distracts and takes away the important attention and energy into too many directions. This results in hippocampus not being able to retain all the information form all tasks, some parts are being lost. It creates an effect of corrupted data storage disk, for which some data cannot be recovered.
Hippocampus, similar to a disk, can only take certain amount of data. If we want to replace it with new portion of information, it needs to be transferred to another disk – short term memory. It is almost as if we were using a USB device to temporarily store and then move the data. Research shows that we can only take 20 minutes at a time, hence when you get out of lecture you physically cannot remember all that was said. The typical format that almost all schools use is inefficient and makes retaining information that much harder. It is simply against brain’s natural rhythm of studying. This is why after getting home you need to engage in a lot of self- directed study. Lessons or lectures that are broken into shorter modules are a perfect solution.
When hippocampus is full the data needs to be moved into short-term memory and eventually to long-term memory. There is a trick to it – connections ! Multiple studies show that we learn best by creating connections to something we already know. Information is stored as schemas (neurological pathways) , which are created over time through experiencing. For example, when we think of a girl, our mind instantly brings long hair and a colour pink, similarly to when we think of a boy, we think of short hair and trousers. We can recall many other associations with these words and they can be updated over time. You may have grown around girls that had short hair and in this case, this will be your memory and connection. We all have teachers that we remember, instructors that we felt were doing a better job than others. It is these that have the ability to intuitively or consciously connect existing schemas with new information, making the learning experience smoother and more pleasurable. Great teachers, trainers, coaches can actively listen, so they get to know their audience, their clients. This allows to focus on meaningful connections and provide a better learning experience or a service. I am extremely passionate about neuroscience. As a trainer and coach, I use these techniques; shorter modules and connections, in my programmes and 1-1 work. This allows me to provide brilliant results, teach people to help themselves, achieve better results and success much faster.
TAKE SOME ZZZZ’s
Sleeping is very beneficial for our bodies. Not only it makes us more beautiful, ahh dear “beauty sleep”… but also plays a crucial role when forming the long-term memories. This is the stage during which existing schemas blend in with newly gained information. It strengthens and updates the roadmap of our neurological pathways. Our brain is a clever structure switching us into maintenance mode during sleep. It is when we sleep that a little housekeeping happens. We are constantly bombarded with tons of new information, every single day. When we sleep our brain is working hard on cleaning up the storage to make space for new data. Mind deletes old, unused pieces of information and puts new ones in order.
BE A HABIT DESIGNER
A mixed learning experience is the best way to keep information inside our heads. Whether you are a student or a teacher, it is easier if you do some pre-class study, then listen in at school, but also remember about post study resource creation or use. Axela uses this approach in my programmes and courses, as well as with my private clients. My clients find it very effective. I also use it myself, while extending my knowledge pool.
We learn because we want to know more, be better at something, but most importantly to create a change. Be it a new job or personal skill, it all starts from designing a habit. This part of learning process is a main job of a brain’s structure – the basal ganglia. You will need to creatine a routine, a behaviour, but also an association with a reward that comes after the routine is completed. If you exercise it often enough, it will become your long term habit. The best example would be brushing your teeth. You don’t have to think about how to do it, once you’ve done it several times. It happens somewhat naturally and automatically. That is the beauty of a habit and a change process. It may be hard at the beginning, it may be daunting, but with time most things become easier, so you can move onto the next level and save yourself some time for things that matter.