Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

Change is one of the most difficult tasks for most people. It becomes even more challenging if the change involves subject areas that bore you or tasks you don’t like. However, change does not have to be painful writes Dr. Barbara Oakley, in her new book, Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential.

You can build interest in a topic that you may not like by giving yourself a reason to learn it. Wouldn’t it be great if I could change the content on our web page without having to call our web consultant? Improving your skill set or lifestyle is a powerful motivator. Set a goal from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.

People often procrastinate performing unwelcomed tasks because difficult or challenging assignments often can cause the brain to experience pain. When that occurs, you tend to divert your attention from what you don’t want to do to something that is more enjoyable.

Use the Pomodoro technique to avoid procrastinating.

  • Avoid distractions: No emails or texts.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Become laser focused on the task for 25 minutes.
  • Reward yourself after 25 minutes with a cup of coffee, walk, music, etc.

Oakley notes that the brain operates in two primary modes. One involves activating task-positive networks when you focus on a task or attempt to learn something. The second way the brain works is when you are not focusing on anything in particular. It is a diffused rather than focused way of thinking.

In order to learn something new, most people go back and forth between diffused and focused thinking modes. It’s natural that you may not understand a new task or topic on the first attempt. Oakley claims that you need to allow time for your brain to move from focused to diffused mode. When it does, your brain has a chance to “consolidate and consider the material from a different perspective.”

Oakley claims that when you are undertaking something new that does not come naturally, build a collection of neural chunks. Spend time each day working on a problem or the material. It takes time and effort before the task becomes less daunting. Daily practice and development of neural chunks helps you to learn anything.


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