How I learned to organize my scatterbrain

پکیج: TED Education / سرفصل: سخنرانی های دانش آموزان / درس 9

TED Education

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How I learned to organize my scatterbrain

توضیح مختصر

Trishna Bindu was tired of ending every school day with the same question- "Where did I put my water bottle??" and having to retrace her steps to find it. So she did what any good student would do- her homework. In this humorous (and helpful!) Talk, self-proclaimed scatterbrain Trishna shares her favorite memory techniques for navigating a busy world of homework assignments, impromptu interests, and endless "don't forget to's." The TED-Ed Clubs program supports students in discovering, exploring and presenting their big ideas in the form of short, TED-style talks. In TED-Ed Clubs, students work together to discuss and celebrate creative ideas. Club Leaders receive TED-Ed's flexible curriculum to guide their Members in developing presentation literacy skills to help inspire tomorrow's TED speakers and future leaders. To learn more about TED-Ed Clubs or to start your own club, go to http-//

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How many of you have ever walked into a room and wondered, “Why did I come here in the first place?” Or maybe you left something behind, your pencil case, for example, and you have to circle the entire house before coming back to the place where you originally started only to find it sitting right there? Anyone had any similar experiences? Great. Fo me, it’s things like this that define my life. My friends know me for continuously losing my water bottle, among other things. I am, in every sense of the word, a scatterbrain. And I was feeling pretty foolish about it myself until I read this article about this book called, “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.” And in it, the author Steven Johnson compares settlements of different types, so like cities and towns, noting that as cities get bigger, they generate ideas at a faster clip. Why? Because of the increase in the number of ideas in a fixed area. So in our context, a scatterbrain can be seen as a metropolis with bits of disorganized information floating around, constantly crashing into each other. It’s messy. But it is also more likely for two unrelated ideas to collide giving rise to new innovations, like hip-hop – ballet fusion or the use of math to formulate a harmonic melody. So in essence, a scatterbrain then, becomes a source of creativity and innovation and therefore, it’s just as Steven Johnson said: “The more disorganized your brain is, the smarter you are.” Now, considering that I had the potential of being the queen of scatterbrains, I was feeling pretty good about myself. But another part of me started to wonder, “Hold up. If you’re such a genius then how come none of your ideas ever take shape?” And that brings us to the greatest disaster faced by all scatterbrains: flooding. It happens internally and externally. Let me explain. Now, I don’t know about you, but 90% of the best ideas I have ever had have come to me when I’m in the shower. So, I might have an English Literature essay due the next day, and I might be shampooing my hair when all of a sudden this line pops up in my head “Despite his high status, Othello, the tragic hero, eventually falls to his doom due to jealousy – his greatest hamartia.” And I’m like “Yes! This will make a top-notch literature sentence.” So I quickly finish showering, get my clothes on, seat myself at my table, pen and paper in hand, ready to write that golden essay. And I reach into my head to find that line only to find lyrics to a Michael Jackson song or images from the last movie I watched. In the end I’m just left there thinking, “Hmm, I had this really nice way of saying Othello dies. What was it again?” My mind is so flooded that I can’t find that sentence I came up with just two minutes ago! The second type of flooding happens externally by people putting things in your brain. So, for example, I might be on my way to school and my mom would say, “Hey, why don’t you buy this chocolate from this particular shop because apparently, it tastes really good.” And then I’d go to school and I’d get attacked by an arsenal of math equations. And then I might go to lunch and my friends would give me this list of movies to remember to watch over the weekend. And the day would go on and on with things piling in my head until finally, it looked something like this. This, my friends, is what a scatterbrain looks like. All those pieces of paper are bits of information that people put in your brain. And sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. And in this mess, the chances of remembering to look at the information that says “remember your bottle,” well, that’s pretty slim. Yet, strangely enough, my memory becomes flawless when it came to things like remembering dialogues from a movie, or random facts, for example, did you know that the word for pineapple in a lot of the languages of the world sound something like “ananas?” So, for example, in Hindi, its “ananas,” in French its “ananas,”, in Indonesian it’s “nanas.” It’s a completely useless fact, like I’m probably never going to use it, maybe I might, I don’t know, but I remember it super clearly. And that got me thinking, “Why?” Why is it I can remember the translation for pineapple, but I can’t remember a sentence I came up with just two minutes ago? Forget that, I can’t even remember not to leave my water bottle behind! So after a lot of frustration and contemplation, I was able to condense it down into three main points: sequence, association, and iteration, S.A.I. What does it mean? Well, sequence is your ability to find a logical pattern in the information you have to remember. Association is when you link that information with something weird, striking, memorable to make it stick in your brain, and iteration is when you repeat it so many times that it automatically gets stuck in your head. That’s why when I go, “Hello, can you hear me?” I bet half of the people in this room are able to sing along because they’ve heard it 1,000 times. Or when I say the word “frozen,” you immediately think of a blonde girl in a blue dress singing, “Let it go, let it go.” Your brain is able to pick up that specific information and display it at the right moment. So that’s for things we don’t really need to remember. How about the things that are really required? Well, we apply the same three rules. In fact, man has been using it throughout history. Before the time of writing, there was the oral tradition where the history of civilizations was passed down through songs and hymns. Forget history, think about yourself! Back in nursery, your teachers used nursery rhymes to teach you things like alphabets, parts of the body, numbers. All these rhymes had sequence, could be associated with something interesting, and if it was iterated enough times, it will automatically get stuck in your head. The first time I was formally introduced to memory techniques was when I was in sixth grade, and I was going through a phase where I had somehow gotten it into my head that I could not continue living unless I learned Japanese. So one day, I was in the kitchen with my mom who was cooking, and I was trying to learn the numbers one to ten in Japanese. Emphasis on the word trying. I.e. I was going nowhere. But I wasn’t about to give up anytime soon, so I was rambling on and on, and my mom must have gotten fed up because at one point, she gently interrupted me and she was like, “Trishna, why don’t you make a story out of it?” And I was like, ‘Mother, how the heck am I supposed to make a story out of this?” And she was like, “Okay, think of it this way. One in Japanese is ichi and two is ni. Together, they sound something like an itchy knee.” And I was like, “Okay, I see what you did there.” And I went ahead and I created a story of my own. And it goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was a kid named Meg. Now Meg, had a very “ichi ni.” And it was a very “san”ny day, so she was feeling really sleepy and she began to “yon” a lot. So to wake herself up, she decided to “go” out and play, so she went outside and she started playing with some “rokus,” but then she decided “nana,” I’ve got to stop because it had begun raining and she had caught a cold and she was sneezing like, “hachi!” So, she went to find shelter in the nearest store, but when she got there, she found a really long “kyuu,” but the shop owner who was this “jew” and he was really nice and he let her go in first. The end. It’s a completely weird useless story but that’s kind of what made it stick. There was a sequence of events, I associated each word with a homophone, and if I repeat it enough times, it will automatically get stuck in my brain. Perfect, right? With a technique like this, I could remember anything! Unfortunately, no. I couldn’t remember things when I didn’t remember that I had something to remember, my water bottle, for instance. So while I was excelling in class, where I had to remember things like lists and definitions, outside, I was still a complete mess. And then, when I entered junior high, the BBC Sherlock Holmes TV show came out, and its protagonist, Sherlock Holmes, had the one thing I had always longed for, an awesome memory. He called it his “mind palace.” He could do this thing where within a matter of seconds, he could come out with the exact date, place and time a murder happened 20 years ago. I was blown away. So I did the first thing any girl of my generation would do; I Googled him. And I found out that his memory technique was quite a commonly used one called the Method of Loci. It uses what’s known as spatial memory, which is your ability to remember geographical spaces in detail. So, for example, you know every nook and cranny in your room, or maybe something bigger, you know all the roads in a certain area. So when I found out I was ecstatic and I wanted to put it to immediate use. And the most current problem I was having at the time was my tendency to lose things I was carrying with me, my water bottle, for instance. So I developed a routine wherein before leaving a place, I would take a walk around school in my head. What do I mean? Well, the first step to creating a mind palace is picking a location you are really familiar with, and for me, personally, I know all the rooms in my school, so I made the school my mind palace. And I associated each room with objects I tended to lose a lot. So, for example, the calculator I would associate with the math room, my USB with the computer room, and my bottle with the lost and found, and on and on, So before leaving a room, I would mentally take a walk around each of these rooms and check to see if I had the associated object on me at the time. So for example, I would first go to the math room associated with the calculator- Do I have it? Yes, and then move on the next rooms checking to see if I had each object until finally I reached the lost and found associated with the bottle- Do I have the bottle? Yes. Complete. Obviously, this is a highly simplified version of the actual thing, but it’s one way of putting the technique to use. And here, too, we can see S.A.I. We can see the sequence of rooms, and how each room is associated with an object, and if I walk through these rooms enough times, all of it will automatically get stuck in my head. So that’s the bottle problem solved. And I also manage to retain my scatterbrain genius of being able to find anything I need in the metropolitan mess of my mind using these memory techniques. So let’s come back to the present. Hello everyone. My name’s Trishna, I am 17-years old, and I am a complete scatterbrain, but I manage my life pretty well using my new and refined memory techniques. Well, it’s not 100% foolproof, but at least I can say with confidence I will never have to ask myself this question again. Thank you.

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