Albert Einstein was once asked a simple question for which he did not have the answer. The world-renowned genius’ response was, “I don’t clutter my head with things that can be found in a book.”.  I knew there was a reason that story has stayed with me. And I certainly don’t clutter my head with anything I can do without.

mindThe journal Psychological Science reports that tests on university students who hand-wrote their class notes instead of typing them on a laptop had better retention of what they were learning. The Cleveland Browns of the NFL have put this knowledge to practical use and now require that their players write team strategies by hand. According to Dr. Daniel  J. Levitin, author of Organized Mind, professor and neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, our brain has only so much capacity for retained information so we should not clutter it with useless information. The human brain works much like our laptops. We have ROM for functioning and RAM for storing data and I certainly wouldn’t like my RAM to jam. It might affect my ROM and then I’d be royally screwed.

On an everyday level we can all relate to the importance of “To Do” lists in our lives. If we write down a task and enjoy the act of stroking it out when it’s completed, we feel satisfied and less stressed. Taking this a step further, Dr. Levitin suggests that making “To Do” lists is a kind of mental clutter that should be dispensed with in favour of breaking down the tasks. We should put each task or piece of information on a separate piece of paper such as an index card to free the brain from what he calls “rehearsal loop” or replaying of an idea or task repeatedly to remember it. Students practise this technique by writing and rewriting information on flash cards or index cards to etch it in their brains for exams. Stupid me—I just tried to memorize everything and was rewarded with dismal results.

Here's what my daily production schedule looks like.
Here’s what my daily production schedule looks like.

However, maybe I have genius potential after all. A few years ago, after I retired I ditched my “To Do” list system in favour of putting sticky Post-In notes on my kitchen cupboard doors. After I complete the ironing sticky note, I gleefully rip it off and stash in the drawer for re-use next time. This system works beautifully and keeps me organized and stress-free. Perhaps Dr. Levitin would like to research my brain. I’m amazing at retaining garbage but have trouble remembering the simple sequence of the three buttons I need to push on the remote to engage my PVR. Fortunately, I wrote it down on a stickie that I keep beside the remote. Otherwise my life would be chaos. Now it’s Guide, Record, Select. Simple, but I can only retain that information as long as it’s written on a yellow stickie. It’s genius.

Lynda Davis

As an early Baby Boomer, born in 1947, it seems to me that as we approach our retirement years, Boomers have gone from being the energy driving our nation to slowly becoming invisible. We risk losing our identity as society remains stubbornly youth-centric. And the irony is that Gen Xers and Ys are not the majority; we are. BOOMERBROADcast is my platform for being the voice of Baby Boomers, women in particular. We've generated a lot of changes over the decades but there's still a long way to go. After a 40-year career in the corporate world, I've taken up expressing the observations and concerns of our generation. Instead of pounding the pavement in my bellbottoms with a cardboard sign, I'm pounding my laptop (I learned to type on a manual typewriter and old habits die hard). If you have issues or concerns you would like voiced or have comments on what I've voiced, I'd love to hear from you. We started breaking the rules in the sixties and now that we're in our sixties it's no time to become complacent. Hope you'll stay tuned and if you like BOOMERBROADcast, share it with your friends. Let's rock n' roll! If you would like to be notified whenever I publish a new posting, click on the little blue box in the lower right of your screen that says +Follow→ Lynda Davis

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I knew that I had packets of sticky notes for some reason. I thought of you tonight. At the local restaurant we had live music from the 50’& 60’s and the place was packed with people from our past and some younger folks who knew all of the words to all of the songs. You would have loved the poodle skirts and bobby socks!! One of our friends, with dementia, was there in a wheelchair and he knew all of the words to all of the songs from our past as well. Some things stay forever in our brains and they are not clutter!! Happy Labour Day – love retirement!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: