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« The Experiment Continues | Main | SF Tips - #5: Unfinished Tasks »

An Experiment

I want to try an experiment. This is a sort of competition - no prizes though.

I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to try to answer the following question:

“Does using SuperFocus increase your brain power?”

Please reply in the comments. I will let the best five comments (in my opinion) remain and delete the rest. This will be an ongoing process.

Finally, I will publish the best comment on the blog itself as a guest post.

Don’t refer to other people’s comments in your comment, as the comment you are referring to may get deleted.

Of course if we don’t get more than five comments it won’t work, so please get writing!

Reader Comments (5)

Brain Power can be defined as the ability and capacity of the brain to think more effectively, possess a larger and more reliable memory storage, improve concentration and allow for more creative problem-solving. Many psychologist suggest that the brain has specialized functions in different geographic regions...most significant are the Conscious and Unconscious sections of the brain.

Traditional task management or time management systems attempt to free the conscious mind of it's less productive retention of tasks and projects, which are usually stored in that finite storage capacity. Since many of these systems require the conscious mind to make more complex evaluations and decisions about the tasks and projects, it has to work harder and longer to "slice and dice" these tasks and then decide how they will be "bucketed" in the the respective management system. If the system doesn't work properly, possibly because it's too complex, the conscious mind retains everything,

SuperFocus releases the intensity of the getting the tasks from the conscious mind into a reliable system by really creating only a few thought processes...what list of 2 does the task go on and how should I define the task...then it's a simple matter of writing it on paper. The conscious mind is then asked to make a simple decision regarding the review of the list for workable task. The simplicity of Super Focus allows the conscious mind to resolve and then stop thinking about the system, thus freeing it up for more productive creative thinking, problem solving and more focus on doing the task itself. The unconscious mind, which is the brain's automatic memory, is also not taxed because the conscious mind reminds it that the Super Focus system works, no additional "brain power" is needed by either parts of the brain.

Super Focus significantly increases Brain Power as memory, capacity and decision making has more space and brain capacity to function effectively and productively.

-Mark M.
March 13, 2011 at 21:33 | Unregistered CommenterMark M.
The human mind has limits on what it can do and what it can do well. We only have a single locus of attention, we only are able to keep track of one thing at at time.

We can make decisions either emotionally or analytically. Emotional decisions
happen rapidly, while analytic decisions take a lot of effort.

We also have limited willpower. That ability to control your actions automatically, as anyone who's overslept or eaten too many cookies knows too well.

Every action we do consistently becomes a habit. Habits are powerful, since they don't take our locus of attention or willpower.

If we can have stronger influence over our habits we can increase our power and productivity. This isn't very straightforward, since the conscious part of our mind, the rational part, is a lot weaker than the emotional part. It's like a small human rider on top of a giant elephant. If the elephant really wants something, there's nothing the small human can to do stop it, and to goad the elephant into doing anything requires lots of effort. On the other hand, if rider can go with the flow of the elephant, riding it becomes very easy.

If we could systematically go with the elephant as much as possible and use subconscious habits, that would reduce the amount of psychic energy we need to use.

Super Focus takes advantage of these abilities of the brain in several ways:

By allow for focus on a specific task at a time, it works with our single locus of attention.

By scanning the list and selecting items to be done based on "what feels ready" we take advantage of the strong emotional part of our brain.

Since the Super Focus rules are simple and consistent, we are able to form habits of how to use the system, thus reducing our cognitive load even more.

By breaking "units of work" into pages and using dismissal, we add the minimal structure necessary to help urge our emotions, "nudging the elephant" towards completing work and tasks.

By working with the grain of the human brain, super focus allows for the more productive use of psychic energy and hence more brain power.
March 14, 2011 at 2:08 | Registered CommenterRyan Freckleton
Power is manifest in an object basically in two ways: from within the object itself and from outside the object itself. Consider a train. The engine of the train derives it's power from within itself, specifically from a chemical reaction which transfers force to the mechanical device that allows it to move forward (or backward). On the other hand, a car being pulled by a locomotive engine derives its power entirely from the engine that is ahead of it (or behind it).
Similarly with our own brains. I believe It is entirely possible to increase brain power from within itself - I'm not a biologist, but perhaps through healthy diet, physical exercise and a challenging mental environment. I am told that the basis of "habit" has a lot to do with neuropathways that are strengthened through repetition. Knowing a second language, I have heard, can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease for up to 4 years.
On the other hand, It is also possible to increase brain power from outside itself. Simply look at the power of the computer, or even the printing press or the invention of writing, or simple math. These tools have elevated human intelligence to remarkable heights that were not possible without them.
So, does superfocus increase brain power? Not in the internal sense, no. I don't think maintaining the superfocus list is mentally challenging at all, in fact therein lies its beauty. It is so simple and easy to use. Certainly talking "about" superfocus and contributing to discussion forums might grease the mental gears and wheels a bit, but if you want that kind of exercise, better to learn a new language or work on some logic problems.
But, as an external tool, it is the most powerful aid in terms of time management that I have ever used. It is truly amazing the extra leverage it gives me to complete tasks and get things done. And in this sense, as a tool brought in from outside the brain itself, it s remarkable in it's power.
March 15, 2011 at 3:17 | Unregistered CommenterRev. Paul MacNeil
Compared to a condor, a human being’s muscles are inefficient in turning energy into motion. A human on a bike, however, becomes more efficient than the condor.

The bike is a tool. It takes the human body and amplifies its performance. Moreover, if cycled regularly, as well as moving you from place to place (with a condor watching you jealously from on high), you would benefit from a form of exercise that improves physical fitness and performance.

Like the bike, Superfocus is a tool. Even from the outset, it provides a mechanism to enhance and amplify the user’s mental performance in managing tasks and workload, but it is too simplistic to claim that it 'improves Brain Power'.

Of itself, SAF does not increase the raw ‘power’ of the brain. Faculties like intelligence, perceptual acuity, neural and reflex speed, memory capacity or other faculties are not magically improved by practising SAF. It does, however, from the outset enable a practitioner to make considerably better use of their brain’s resources, in the way that even a novice bike rider will move faster than a pedestrian.

- Capturing tasks as items on a written list lessens the load on memory.
- The closed lists form helps to keep the number of items being considered to a manageable size and number.
- The system provides a discipline of reviewing the list and navigating the list. This helps fix attention, reduces distraction, drift and procrastination.
- It co-opts the intuition when selecting tasks to undertake. This aids decision-making and helps reduce the unconscious mind’s resistance and reluctance to start tasks (as does the ‘little and often’ approach).
- It also encourages focus on one task at a time, which yields performance benefits.

This makes better use of existing resources, and improves productivity, both in terms of getting things done, and producing results.

Moreover, practising these techniques and discipline over time, especially to the point where they become automatic and habitual, will probably yield benefits in attention, focus, memory efficiency (if not capacity), because these faculties are being exercised.

I would be wary however of grandiose, ill-defined, fuzzy, or pseudo-scientific claims that SAF increases ‘Brainpower’ (in the manner of Tony ‘Bravado’ Buzan claiming that Mind Mapping™ makes its practitioners more ‘intelligent’).

Rather than pondering semantics, let’s use the system to get stuff done and create some kickass results.

Alternatively, let’s teach condors to ride bikes.
March 15, 2011 at 14:48 | Registered CommenterJames Precious
Many tools and techniques can be used to extract greater power from any system. A lever does not change the raw power but can drastically increase the amount of power applied to the purpose at hand. Reorganizing a process for greater efficiency likewise does not change raw power, but an improved process can ensure that less power is wasted in useless work and more is applied toward the desired output. And better engine maintenance and smoother engine operation can actually increase the raw power.

All these principles apply to SuperFocus and its impact on brain power. I have discovered this through my own use of SuperFocus, and will provide a few examples.

Leverage: While using SuperFocus, I found that certain tasks would always get "dismissed" -- the system would highlight these tasks as "undesirable" and they'd never get any action. But the problem was, these tasks were *necessary* -- I couldn't just ignore them. So, after trying to figure out why this kept happening, the tasks would get recycled back into the list for another go. But they'd just get dismissed again.

After seeing this happen a few times, I realized why it was happening. I just wasn't good at those tasks, and HATED doing them -- even though they really needed to be done. I tried to think how I could get around this somehow. It occurred to me that one of my co-workers actually LOVED doing that kind of work -- so I asked her if she could handle some of those tasks for me. She got to do more work that she really enjoyed, and got recognition for it -- and I was able to rid my list of those ugly tasks! It was a win-win, and it worked out great!!

This is an example of leverage -- delegating tasks to someone else who is better equiped to get them done. Delegation can drastically increase one's total output, as I began to find out. I probably wouldn't have identified this opportunity for leverage without SuperFocus -- but now the SF dismissal process is helping me find opportunities like this all over the place.

Improved process efficiency -- Looking back over the last month of using SuperFocus, I can see that my total output has increased significantly. And this doesn't count the things I've learned to delegate. My workload has increased significantly over the last three months, and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by it. I was now leading two new project teams while still trying to carry my previous responsibilities. Just managing team logisitics was getting to be a real chore (setting up meetings, tracking minutes and action items, etc.) -- let alone trying to make sure we were completing our deliverables and project tasks.

But after a few weeks, the workload hadn't changed, but I found I was staying on top of it. All the important work was moving forward, I wasn't feeling overwhelmed any more. I feel this is due mostly to SuperFocus. By its very nature, SuperFocus makes sure that the important work gets done, WHEN it should get done, and allows the less important / less urgent to rest idle for a time, or fall to the wayside. SuperFocus also helps ensure that the important work gets FINISHED, not just started. There were a few things I was doing before, that now seemed like they didn't really add any value, and they got left behind -- and SuperFocus helped me identify which things were OK to drop.

Here are some specific process changes that SuperFocus helped me identify and implement: (1) Simplify and streamline email processing; (2) Automate meeting agendas; (3) Quickly close my own action items that really needed to be done; let the unimportant ones sit till they are no longer relevant; (4) Move *all* my own tasks to SuperFocus, and keep all my project-management work in appropriate files outside of SuperFocus.

Engine Maintenance -- If you want to increase an engine's raw power, you might try changing the oil, cleaning or replacing the spark plugs, replacing the gaskets, checking the fuel lines, etc. In other words, regular basic maintenance and cleaning. And this is my favorite feature of SuperFocus -- it keeps me working in a very effective mental state. I like to say it keeps me "in the zone", where thoughts flow clearly and work gets done almost effortlessly. In this state, my mental energy increases dramatically -- my raw engine power is operating at a much higher level.

Ever since the original AutoFocus system, I wondered how it was able to achieve this. But then I realized that it achieves this by allowing you to work ONLY on the things that "stand out" -- the things that really feel ready to be done. Mark Forster designed a system that keeps you working "in the zone" BY DEFINITION. If you follow the rules, you'll get into the zone quickly, and stay there.

The dirty oil of boredom, the soiled spark plugs of demotivation, the cracked gaskets of time wasters, the broken fuel line of procrastination -- SuperFocus deals with all of these effectively and automatically. There isn't any boredom, because the SuperFocus list automatically contains a great variety of tasks. There isn't any demotivation, because you can work on whatever catches your interest at the time. Time wasters tend to disappear or get dismissed, never to return. And best of all, SuperFocus keeps you in a state of achieving RESULTS THAT MATTER -- the very opposite of procrastination.

So, does SuperFocus increase one's brainpower? Yes, and in many ways!
March 16, 2011 at 20:20 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
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