How to Clear Your Mind as a PMP Project Manager

by Don Goewey

open doorThe brain seems to make forgetting easier than we once thought.  That goes for bad stuff as well as stuff that are no longer relevant to the brain.  Scientists used to believe that long-term memories were immutable.  Researchers have found that ten to twenty attempts at blocking a bad memory reliably leads to forgetting it in most people.  In theory, you could bury an unwanted memory by practicing shutting it out every day for a month.

Something neuropsychologists call “cognitive reappraisal” is simply a step in which you put a positive spin on a difficult or painful situation as you engage it.  Doing so can enhance how accurately you’ll remember what happens and diminish the post-traumatic stress the situation might otherwise generate.

Simply Walking Through a Door Clears Your Mind

Believe it or not, walking through a door passage can clear your mind. We’ve all had the annoying experience of arriving in a room only to realize we’ve forgotten what we came there to do.  We’ve probably thought we were losing our grip.  Not so; it’s the way the brain works.  The brain purges old information in favor of new stuff.  Somehow, passing through a door triggers the brain to hit the delete button.  This may sound like bad news but actually we can use walking through a door to our advantage.  It can clear our mind for the next thing on our agenda, especially if the previous situation was stressful, irritating or upsetting.  Here’s how.  Simply get up from where you’re sitting and walk through a doorway into the next space. Researchers at Notre Dame University found whatever happened in the old room is likely to become less relevant to your brain once you have changed venues.

Of course, the unwanted side effect of walking through a door is when your boss or a call of nature pulls you away from an unfinished task.  Passing through your office door is likely to erase information about where you were and what’s the next step. So be sure to write a quick Post-It and stick it to your computer screen so you know where to pick things up when you return.

Especially don’t forget: less is more is the key to the genius in you that buried beneath that hard way of creating that we were taught in school.

If you found these tips from Don Goewey of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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