Cognitive Ease/Law of Least Effort/Lazy Brain

Ie the brain will choose the path of least resistance, like water flowing in a river. This partly explains why people prefer to spend more time thinking about the problem (things they have seen) than solutions (things they have not seen). Thus goal setting is so hard. Similaily, prioritising is hard as it involves imagining and then moving to concepts of which you have had little or no experience. Thus prioritising involves the following functions:

- understanding new ideas

- making decisions

- remembering

- not thinking about things until you have to

- learning to say no

- learning to delegate

- only starting to think about a task when all information is available

- inhibiting

. One way to reduce energy consumption in proiritising is to use visuals (pictures, metaphors, storytelling, etc as they all generate an image in the mind) when processing information. Visuals are useful for the following reasons

- high information-efficient constructs as they hold high amounts of information

- the brain has a long history of creating mental imagery involving objects, etc. This compares with the newer circuitry of language. Research has shown that language is considerably slower. At the same time, writing things down or recording them on a tape/diskrather than storing them in the brain saves energy.

. This means that

- we should schedule the most energy-consuming tasks first when mind is fresh and alert, eg early in the morning or after a break or exercise

- the brain is like a muscle that tires after use and needs a rest to recover

- it is best to schedule your activities around how the brain functions, rather than by topic eg more energy-demanding tasks get done first. Achieve this by blocking in the different types of work, eg creative work, routine work, deep thinking, etc

"...Your ability to make great decisions is a limited resource. Conserve this resource at every opportunity..."

David Rock, 2009

The less you hold in your mind at once the better. So simplify information by approximating and focusing on an idea via key elements New concepts take up more space in the mind/brain than known ideas

Memory declines when you try to hold more than 1 idea in the mind, ie prefrontal cortex. Even though the mind can hold up to 7 items at once depending upon complexity of the items, when trying to make a decision the optimum number to choose from is 2.

"...the fewer variables you have to hold in mind, the more effective you are at making decisions..."

David Rock, 2009

Whenever too much information is present need to group information into chunks and practise remembering information. It is easier to connect new ideas with existing ideas from the long-term memory.

It's not just the amount of information we need to process, it is also that we have to process information more quickly than before

If we repeat our thought, numbers, sequences, etc enough, the pattern becomes embedded in our longer-term memory

Working memory is either visuospatial or auditory, with the former being more efficient. Visual awareness works in a competitive way with each circuit competing to form the best internal representation of the external object. The brain is able to hold only one representation of the visual object at a time; you cannot see more than one at a time but you can switch between perceptions.

Only a limited number of concepts can be held in the mind. The fewer that are held at once the better. The ideal number is one.

Cognitive improvement is about simplifying and chunking information more effectively and efficiently. This involves the ability to simplify complicated ideas into their core elements.

By reducing complex ideas into a few concepts, it is easier for your brain and others to understand. When grouping information into chunks, the best chunks take fewer than 2 seconds to think about or repeat aloud. It is thought that it takes around 10 years of practice to develop sufficient chunks in any new field to achieve mastery.


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