Five weird ways to study better and remember more

It’s time to get back into the study habit. Here are six science-backed ways to study better and remember more.

  1. Realise you’ll be tested on the material. According to a recent study, when people expect to be tested, their recall improves by 40 to 75 per cent.
  2. Eat a handful of walnuts every day. A large study strongly suggests that whatever your age, ethnicity or gender, eating walnuts improves your thinking.
  3. Drink tea. Research has found that this can improve working memory, which you use to hang onto bits of verbal, visual or other information while you think them through. Tea also improves your attention.
  4. Workout with weights just before studying. According to this study, one workout with weights can immediately boost your long-term memory by 20 per cent.
  5. Be open to experience and be conscientious. A large meta-analysis shows that this is four times more important than your IQ in predicting academic success. When you’re open to experience, you’re more likely to be imaginative, sensitive to your feelings and intellectually curious. When you’re conscientious, you’re going to be disciplined, dutiful and good at planning ahead – all important study habits. You put in not just more effort, but more concentrated effort. Being open to experience and being conscientious are both skills you can build.

What is leadership?

The cost of poor leadership may be invisible, but it’s huge. So let’s take a look at what ‘good’ leadership is.

Good leadership is a privilege. It’s your chance to add value to an organisation and your customers, and to build a team and develop employees.

Good leadership is a state of mind. When you’re a good leader, you hold yourself (and others) in high regard. You set high standards and expect the best, from yourself and from others. You see positives and possibilities. You pay attention. And you genuinely care about others. When you care about others, for instance, you make sure they have what they need to succeed and you help them develop their skills and reach their goals. You lend a hand when you can; you lend your ears and your eyes when someone is talking; and you use peoples’ names. You make people feel good—about themselves, about the work they do, about being part of your team. You’re free with compliments, praise and welcoming smiles because you know they are worth their weight in gold; they tell people what they’re doing well and where they need to grow.

Good leadership is a set of behaviours. Good leaders, for instance, treat everyone with respect—older people, younger people, bosses, workers and customers alike, and this earns them respect in return. Good leaders are polite to others and considerate of others. They say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and they they‘re available and approachable.

As a bonus to yourself, good leadership is good for your brain. In an earlier blog, I discussed how leadership improves your ability to learn and remember because it strengthens your hippocampus, the horseshoe-shaped structure in your brain most associated with forming, organising and storing memories.

How do your leadership mindsets and behaviours measure up?

Psssst! Did you hear …?

Do you know that people attribute what you say about others as your own characteristics? Yup. It’s official. In a series of studies reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we become associated with the very traits we attribute to others. Moreover, those associations persist over time, even when there is no logical basis for them.

The implications are clear: to build effective working relationships, be careful what you say about others. Make your comments positive, not critical.

Banish brain fog

If you’re like most leader-managers, you sometimes feel your thoughts are swirling, you can’t think straight or concentrate, or that a problem you need to think through is just too much for you and you don’t even know where to begin. Maybe you occasionally sit staring at the computer screen or the paper or journal in front of you with ‘the lights on but no one home’, as the saying goes.

There’s a term for that: brain fog. It happens to us all, especially when we’re feeling stressed or worried, or when we have so much to do, we feel we can’t possibly get through it all. Here are four tips to clear your brain fog when it sets in.

  1. Go outside and get some fresh air. A few deep breaths and a short walk work wonders. It clears your brain and lets your subconscious get to work sorting out what you need to concentrate on.
  2. Clear the clutter in your workspace. Brain fog finds it hard to stick around when the space around you is clear.
  3. Avoid sugar, pasta and other simple carbohydrates. They drain energy away from your brain into your stomach to digest them.

  4. Get a good night’s sleep. No texting, tweeting or posting. A rested brain works far better than a tired brain.

Each of these simple tips for clearing brain for is good for you in lots of other ways, too. You can’t lose!