The lecture (he also did one at LSE - the blog post is here) was - I think - prompted by his latest book
What follows is a summary based on tweets by others on the lunchtime event and my own notes. But 1st if you want 12 insights from the lecture ...
1) Multi-tasking is a myth - you're just quickly switching between tasks - use uni-tasking to get more done more creatively
2) To be more creative & effective- every 2 hours allow 10-15 minutes to daydream - its restorative and helps us make connections between things we didn't see as connected - a bit like a neural reset button
3) Sage on the stage passive learning doesn't stick - solo study then together in class applying ideas in novel situations does
4) Sometime categorising thinks into a "junk draw" is more cognitively economic
5) Improvisation is often actually bits worked out beforehand - and then used in an improvised way
6) Decision making burns glucose - so make important decisions early in the day (& eat breakfast?!)
7) We often procrastinate because to make the decision is unpleasant or we don't know where to start - so just get it over with early in the day
8) Novel/new information is addictive - it triggers dopamine - learn to self blinker to focus & prioritise rather than just constantly standing directly in the information flow
9) Don't waste more time on a decision than its worth
10) To make better decisions ask good questions that move your knowledge forward
11) Brainstorming is rarely effective if you want to get creative solutions - instead ask individuals to go away and daydream ideas, test them, and then come back to the group to share them
12) To maintain concentration once/twice a day write down everything in your head
AND NOW IN A BIT MORE DETAIL ......
Why did he write the book?
So he reviewed as many of the books on this subject as he could (from this review he thinks few are based on any scientific evidence)
Finding little science in the books he turned to the 4000 or so scientific papers on the subjects of memory, attention, productiveness.
Plus he looked at what people actually do - artists, CEOs, the successful, politicians (often Executive Assistants were an informative source of great ideas)
An age of information overload
In 2011, we took in five times as much information every day as we did in 1986 – the equivalent of 175 newspapers. During our leisure time every day, each of us processes 34 gigabytes, or 100,000 words—and that’s not even counting our work.
Back in the 1980's there were typically 9000 items in store - now there are some 40,000. Yet on average we only look at some 150 each trip. The cognitive cost of ignoring the 36850 is significant.
At work many of us are thinking of things we need to do outside work, outside work we are thinking about work. In neither place are we wholly there as we busily multi-tasking
The myth of multi- tasking
We think we are being efficient when multi-tasking, but ...
People who uni-task - who focus on one thing - often feel as though they have achieved less than if they had multi-tasked. Yet studies find that by any objective measure uni-taskers both get more done than multi-taskers AND are more creative in their work.
the creative mode for the brain
Daydreaming or mind-wandering, we now know, is a natural state of the brain. Its restorative and helps us make connections between things we didn't see as connected. Its a bit like a neural reset button
Insights from the Q&A
Multi-tasking & gender
e.g. probably had to be better due to evolutionary child care role. So women will make better air traffic controllers, journalists, simultaneous translators
@danlevitin #RSAInformation the sage on the stage model of passive teaching doesn't work. Students remember 20% of their courses 1 year on
because the knowledge is acquired passively. So ...
with such an approach they "retain for life" the knowledge because they are actively involved
Lessons from studies on how the brain works
We are natural organisers of things into categories - and sometime when its not worth the thinking time to categorise ..
the junk draw is cognitively economic
is often actually bits of what we have worked out beforehand - and then used in an improvised way
Decision making burns glucose - so on what time of the day to make decisions (assuming you have breakfast?) ...
We often procrastinate because to make the decision is unpleasant or we don't know where to start.
So one piece of advice if you want to find solutions to problems is ....
another is to just get the decision over with by making it early in the day
Addictiveness of information
Lessons form interviews with the Joint Chiefs
1) don't waste more time on a decision than its worth
Restructuring how we work
Open floor plans are often good for the quick flow of ideas
or try turning off email for an hour
These techniques can work well for those who can do them
other posts on RSA, TED, other lectures, conferences, others blog posts
thinking straight in the age of information overload - by @danlevitin - this post
how to become a soulful organisation - by @fred_laloux - from January 2015
thoughts & headlines from conference on social media and images - from November 2014
Data Protection & Privacy - 8 issues from an International Conference - from October 2014
escape your social horizon limit & understand more - from August 2014
OECD - challenges for the next 50 years - in an OECD report - from July 2014
Want to help somebody - shut up and listen - by ermesto sirolli - from June 2014
social media & death - 10 things you may not have thought about - #DORS conference - from April 2014
persuasion and power in the modern world and the rise of soft power - UK House of Lords - from March 2014
UK Government Policy Blunders & their common causes - by Anthony King & Ivor Crewe - from September 2013
the development of the U2 spyplane - from August 2013
Guide to Comments (esp. #YouTube) for creators - by @vihartvihart - from July 2013
considering culture and business process improvement - from May 2013
ideas for your organisation from the 2013 99U conference - from May 2013
ideas that may help you attract older volunteers - from May 2013
physical factors which help people get better quicker - from April 2013
a new approach to school and education - by Geetha Narayanan - from March 2013
principles for software to encourage participation - by Gerhard Fischer - from March 2013
guiding principles on designing construction kits - by Mitchel Resnick & Brian Silverman - from March 2013
how to identify the #culture of an organisation - from February 2013
signs of overparenting - from February 2013
making ideas happen - from January 2013
how to spot a liar - by pamela myer - from July 2012
the related world of cyber crime, warfare and industrial espionage - by @mishaglenny - from September 2011
ambiguity, irreverence, commentary & judgement - by lauren zalaznick - from September 2011
measuring happiness - from May 2011