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“My Brain is Full”…Time for Spring Cleaning?

As spring begins to slowly emerge, I am reminded of the natural desire to do “spring cleaning.” We may do that for our homes, our closets or our offices, but do we do that for our minds?

Research on learning has shown that we need to clear some space to allow for new learning to occur. “Much of what we learn in a day, we don't really need to remember,” Chiara Cirelli, of the Center for Sleep and Consciousness says. “If you've used up all the space, you can't learn more before you clean out the junk that is filling up your brain.”

I know I have experienced that feeling of “my brain is full.” It happens even faster on a day when I am sleep deprived. There is a reason for that: Once again, sleep is one critical ingredient to our ability to refresh and renew our “learning space.” Many have shared with me that a full brain actually prevents them from sleeping, which just perpetuates the cycle.

What are some ways you can do some mental “spring cleaning?”

  1. Take a “brain dump” break once a day or at least one a week. Depending on your preference, it can be in the evening after a full day or in the morning to get organized, or both. Just writing the stuff down that is floating in your head can allow you to let it go and help move it onto long-term memory. It is even better if you keep a running priority list that you can review and update. (Whole Brain® Model “B quadrant” tip)
  2. Power up by taking a mini-walk, run or mental breather. Often the “noise” in our heads is the same information cycling around again and again. Just taking a five-minute physical break will send blood flow to your brain, and that’s often enough to flush out the clutter and allow you to refocus. (Whole Brain® Model “C quadrant” tip)
  3. Leverage technology. Use recorders, smartphones or your gadget of choice to capture a recurring thought for processing later or for filing in your brain dump list. (Whole Brain® Model “A quadrant” tip)
  4. Treat your brain to some escape. Daydream, take a powernap or listen to some music to calm your thinking and give it a rest. It does not take much to shift your brain state. (Whole Brain® Model “D quadrant” tip)

Oh, by the way, don’t wait for Spring!

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Tags: Brain Research, Productivity, Whole Brain Thinking

The four-color, four-quadrant graphic, HBDI® and Whole Brain® are trademarks of Herrmann Global, LLC.

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