Why It’s OK That Your PMP Project Management Brain Wanders a Bit

by Don Goewey

PMP brainMost of us judge the content of mind wandering as useless if not downright stupid.  We tell ourselves to snap out of it.  Well, it’s time to reconsider that notion. The evidence is that our openness to this experience and its seemingly irrelevant content intensifies creativity by associating two ideas from different brain networks.  You’ll know when you’ve experience this; it’s comes on as that out of the blue moment and verbalizes in you as Ah Ha!

Nice and Easy is Also the Best Way to Remember New Stuff

Less effort is how the brain remembers best.  Most people memorize details by repeating them over and over.  We feel inept five minutes later when we can’t remember all of it.  Drilling information into our head ad nauseum is not the best way to convert short term memory (which quickly fades and disappears) into long term memory (where it’s at your beck and call).  The best way to memorize something important is:

  1. Concentrate on what you want to remember for a moment in ways that are fun (I provide some “fun” approaches below).
  2. Let the mind go blank for twenty seconds and then recall the information.
  3. Do steps 1 and 2 four times within the span of an hour.

This simple process is much less work and much more effective.   It works by providing the brain the time to consolidate the information and build the neural pathway that now holds it.  Try it.  You’ll find the information sticks.

The fun part in memorizing is using mind games. Association is one example, such as remembering something by associating it with something familiar from the past.  It’s a good way to remember names.  The brain also likes word games. For example, the phrase “Mvery easy method just set unine planets” has been used for years by Astronomy 101 students to remember Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,Neptune, and Pluto. The fictitious name “Roy G Biv” has helped students remember the order of the colors in a rainbow.  It works because sentences that are complete thoughts are often easier to remember than details.  And easier is the way the higher brain likes it. Part of what’s accomplished by making things fun is that you don’t stress as much and as a result prevent stress hormones from retarding the hippocampus, the brain’s memory powerhouse.

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 PDUs2Go.com.


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