In the years I spent living ‘off the cuff’ I always envied those more organized, viewing organisation as a valuable life skill. Whilst I’m a firm believer that being organized leads to greater productivity and realizing goals, surprisingly there are draw backs.
I was stunned to discover that those with highly structured lives have poorer memory function and a reduced capacity to learn when compared with those who enjoy a healthy amount of novelty in their daily lives. Novelty literally increases the brains plasticity – allowing us to more effectively retain new information.
There are several interesting applications to these findings for those that wish to improve your memory and learn new things, the top three being:
- Change to an unfamiliar environment when learning new things
- Revise a mixture of new and old facts to learn more effectively
- Learn new things in the thirty minutes following doing something novel
Even though I lead a very structured life when I’ve ventured on holiday I always love being bombarded with novelty, I find it exciting – invigorating even. When I’m not on holiday my 40 before 40 bucket list serves to inject some much needed novelty into my diary, reminding me that variety is good for the soul. As you can see, a structured life needn’t be the enemy of novelty!
There are many ways to add novelty to your life should you wish to reap the rewards of a better memory and an increased capacity to learn (and who wouldn’t?). Remember, if the new activity you are trying out is playful too, the benefits are compounded by increased flexibility, adaptiveness, hope for the future and even optimism.