Yes! Chocolate improves your memory

There’s more to this, in fact there’s a lot more and it’s all to do with improving your memory or something, but I focused only on tip number 1:

1. Nibble on chocolate: Just this week, we learned that eating chocolate might lessen age-related memory loss. Columbia University researchers studied almost 40 adults between 50 and 69 years old, and found that those who drank a high-flavanol cocoa mix every day for three months performed better on memory tests and had higher activity in the area of the brain linked with memory

Ways To Boost Your Memory – Samantha Zabell, Real Simple (no date)

Read the full piece for the rest. Best to get a bar of Bournville dark chocolate first, though. For some reason. Hat tip to Time magazine for spotting this on 31 December 2014.

The big idea of how to be and how to stay productive

It’s hard, isn’t it? Even now. You’re handling a lot more than you ever did but it’s ceaseless and the more you can do, the more you get given to do. You’re the one who gets stuff done and, grief, if that isn’t a pain.

Also a pleasure, admit it. Yes, sure, you can take on that extra work, no trouble.

It is trouble and it is hard and it does take consistent, persistent, ceaseless effort.

But the way you do this always the same. The detail of your tasks and even of how you organise them may vary, yet at the heart there are just three things to keep in mind:

1) Spend time now to save time later
Invariably, just invariably, it takes you less time if you do something now than if you do something later.

There are exceptions. I’ve found I boom along at close to lightspeed when a deadline is coming but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you said the quality of what I do suffers.

The key reason for this is to do with number 2:

2) Stop churning
I know someone who was worried about a thing that was coming up at the end of the month. But he had all the information he needed to know what that thing would be. Not just whether it would be good or bad, but exactly and precisely what it would be. No doubt, no question of error, no wriggle room.

Now, he carried on worrying rather than work it out because he didn’t want to know if it was bad. But he thought about this a lot, just a lot. He churned it over and over in his mind for weeks.

You don’t churn good things. So don’t churn bad ones either.

And one way you do that is number 3:

3) Get tasks out of your head
We’re rubbish at remembering everything and coping with everything, we are fantastic at acting, working, resolving.

Use a good To Do app, get everything in there and know that everything is in there, then just do what the app tells you needs to be done now.

Out of your head and into your list, it makes all of this easier.

The Zeigarnik effect

Never heard of her. But Bluma Zeigarnik was very perceptive and also diligent: what she noticed and then tested in the 1920s is a human truth that applies today, will surely always apply, and which helps your productivity.

From  Alina Vrabie on the Sandglaz Blog:

Some accounts have it that Zeigarnik noticed this effect while she was watching waiters in a restaurant. The waiters seemed to remember complex orders that allowed them to deliver the right combination of food to the tables, yet the information vanished as the food was delivered. Zeigarnik observed that the uncompleted orders seemed to stick in the waiters’ minds until they were actually completed.

Zeigarnik didn’t leave it at that, though. Back in her laboratory, she conducted studies in which subjects were required to complete various puzzles. Some of the subjects were interrupted during the tasks. All the subjects were then asked to describe what tasks they had done. It turns out that adults remembered the interrupted tasks 90% better than the completed tasks, and that children were even more likely to recall the uncompleted tasks. In other words, uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them!

If you look around you, you will start to notice the Zeigarnik effect pretty much everywhere. It is especially used in media and advertising. Have you ever wondered why cliffhangers work so well or why you just can’t get yourself to stop watching that series on Netflix (just one more episode)?

As writer Ernest Hemingway once said about writing a novel, “it is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.” But the Zeigarnik effect can actually be used to positively impact your work productivity.

The Zeigarnik effect: the scientific key to better work – Alina Vrabie, Sandglaz Blog (5 November 2013)

Read how to apply it to your work and to exploit it in yourself – plus see a photo of Dr Zeigarnik herself – on Vrabie’s full article.