Our brains are a fascinating part of ourselves. It allows us to experience all kinds of information and is stronger than any supercomputer. But despite how strong our brains are, there are many people who struggle with retaining information and using it.
That much is clear as you can probably think of one person or many who are able to retain even the most mundane of information.
The thing is, it’s not really a secret. It’s just that most people don’t recognize that these individuals have developed a digital brain. Think of it as a second brain that has a wealth of information you can tap into.
It’s a valuable asset to have and in this four step process, I’ll be teaching you how to develop one for yourself.
Step 1: Record
Once you’ve dismissed those myths, the next step is to practice recording. Recording is taking raw information and implanting it into your digital brain. When you get new information, do the following:
- First, filter – make a point of storing only relevant information you plan to use and apply.
- Second, fill it quickly – Use an app to take down information quickly. For more accuracy, take pictures or use keywords and write down only what you need.
- Finally, fire and forget – Treat your brain like an inbox when recording – store info and organize it later.
Step 2: Organizing
Once you have recorded information, the next thing to do is to organize that information. Thinking about your brain like an inbox, it’s cluttered with all kinds of emails and messages. Some of them are valuable while others are meaningless.
Because we can only store so much, it’s important that you have some way to organize everything. Some things that can help with organizing are:
- A notes app – Evernote, the default note-taking app, or anything like that will be a great place to store idle thoughts that can then be organized later.
- A tag system – Tagging is a great way to categorize everything. Make sure that the tags are specific enough to identify the theme and broad that it can cover a lot in that area. For example, using a tag called “new” isn’t going to help whereas something like “entrepreneurship” will be fitting for various topics.
- Applying the 4 Ws – If you want full details, filling out the 4 Ws help. Who it’s for; Why you saved it; What you plan to do with it; When you need to use it.
Step 3: Recall With Spaced Repetition
After you have a good storage of information, you then need to recall and leverage that information. One strong method to leverage information is practicing spaced repetition. It works like this:
The more often you encounter a certain bit of information, the less you’ll need to refresh your memory of it.
The technique behind spaced repetition lays out a specific map though which I’ve taught in the course Learn Anything Fast at the Lifehack Academy. Here’s an abbreviated version:
- First review your notes – Do this in the first 24 hours of the initial intake of information.
- Second, recall – Do this after a day has passed and at a natural moment. Like when you’re relaxing or going for a walk.
- Third, recall again – Do this step every 24-36 hours over the next several days. Feel free to check your notes again, but only if you absolutely need to.
- Fourth, study it again – After a week, take out the material and study it again.
With these steps, you will be able to develop your own Digital Brain to make room for more learning and creativity. Use your brain in a smarter way and you’ll be amazed by your brain’s potential!
Having been listed as Business Week’s #4 “Top 24 Young Asian Entrepreneurs,” Leon Ho is the Founder and CEO of Lifehack – a productivity blog he started in 2005. He has grown Lifehack into one of the most read self-improvement websites in the world – with over 12 million monthly readers. Grab his latest book The Full Life Essential Guide here.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.