About two weeks ago I decided to deactivate my Facebook account, and there’s one big thing I’ve learned so far: the power of doing nothing. With the internet being in our hands and pockets continuously, we’re on a constant highway of tweets, posts and notifications being thrown at us, which we attempt to take all in. Obviously, our brains aren’t capable of process this huge flow of information, so what happens is that we basically remember nothing.
You see, our memory is ‘divided’ in two parts: the short-term and the long-term memory. What we read, see or hear enters in the short-term memory. But it needs time to settle, to process, to be moulded and brought in relation with other information, in order for it to enter the long-term memory. See the long-term memory as a spider web, with all the dots of our knowledge connected by strings. If we want to add a new dot do this web, we need to create strings to and from this new piece of information, and that takes time.
Remember that feeling you had when your mind was blown the last time? You can kind of feel what you’ve just learned ringing around inside your brain. You need to give it time to settle, so it can become a part of your permanent knowledge. If you just go on in your stream of uninterrupted notifications, it gets kicked right out of your short-term memory and is replaced by something else.
So take your time. Learn something, then make a walk in the park, or just sit down and think about it for a while. Let these new ideas find a comfortable spot to settle. Give them a home inside the city of your brain.