Learning How to Learn. Week 3, Memory and Procrastination

In week 3 of Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects, we are taught the causes for procrastination, how to tackle procrastination and use it to improve our memory.

Pain = Procrastination

Well, really it’s the other way around.

We put off what we don’t want to do because we think of it as being a painful experience. Two most important words in that sentence: We Think.

We think we’re not going to like doing the task.

A Mind for Numbers, by Dr. Barbara Okaley, Ph.D. Excellent read, companion to Coursera’s Learning How to Learn.

Instead, we should think of the task as being a stepping stone towards the bigger goal. Achieving the bigger goal is going to require completing many unpleasant tasks.

Eat the frogs first. Get the hard stuff done. Use the Pomodoro method and focus on the task for 25 minutes then take a break. Work on something else the next time you sit at your desk. But then come back to the frog and finish it. In the optional video interview with Dr. Keith Devlin, NPR’s Math Guy, he says he’ll focus on only one “big picture” item, working one task at a time until the project is complete.

And, he says humans are not good at multi-tasking! We’re better at focusing on one thing at a time. He calls himself a Serial Tasker. I like this approach.

Focus on the frog. If it’s a tough math equation or the need to put words on a page or thread through a needle, work the problem until you not only get the answer but you understand the problem and how it’s connected to the bigger picture, the goal.

Then make a flash card, in your own words, so you can cement that piece of information into your brain and recall it when you need it down the road.

If you continue to procrastinate you will feel pain in a different way too – when you don’t know what you should know what you need to know when you need to know it. 😉

The Use of Flash Cards.

I’m drawn to technology like a moth to a flame. I want everything in the palm of my hand all the time, just in case I have the inkling to check in. I find it fascinating I can be so attached and disconnected at the same time. I’m checking on word counts while out for a hike.

Dr. Oakley discussed the used of Flash Cards. I immediately pictured the open pack of index cards in the office closet and pictured myself making stacks of them. Then I saw myself getting bored with them and eventually throwing them away. Then I thought of all the other sets of flash cards I’ve thrown away. Stop the insanity!

So I google flashcards, and probably flash card apps and found the app (and website) CRAM.  You can make your own stacks of flashcards and have them handy in your phone – AND not have 200 index cards banded up in the bottom of your bag. Or on your desk. Or back in the car while you’re sitting on the train.

I had to giggle over the app name, Cram. this is something Learning How to Learn warns us about – that in no way is cramming for anything, especially when it comes to learning – a good thing. It’s better to work on a subject or task little bits at a time over a period of time. This gives our brains the power to work the way they’re meant to when it comes to learning and remembering information.

I’ve created a few stacks of cards in the app and will continue to work them into my time. My main use for the flashcards is to learn another language.


“Einstellung: German for “setting” or “attitude: Predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner even though a better or more appropriate way exists.” Dr. Oakley has discussed this in a couple of videos so far.

For me, this was a very interesting word and definition. There’s actually an academic sort of word, and of course, it’s a German word, for bone head.

And I, of course, being German (or so I think until I do a 23andme), felt the need to clarify the definition, or to put it in common terms: “When a person is blocking an opportunity to learn what they don’t know with what they think they know.”

We all seem to be doing this a lot lately. We all want our way, our beliefs, (our candidate) to be the right way so we don’t seek out, nor do we accept any other way. We cannot so much as watch a certain T.V. show or station or have certain topics of conversations with certain people. We are so set in our ways, all we can do is shout what we think we know and do our best to discredit what we don’t want to know as garbage.

I attended a community meeting concerning the building of the Desert Discovery Center in the McDowell Mountain Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’m working on another piece (to be published soon and then I’ll update this post with a link) where I’ll share what I experienced and more – and show you what Einstellung looks like. Teaser: It’s kind of funny until it’s not.


While I’d love to gather your comments to articles on this site, I can’t. I’ve been bombarded by – and for some reason continues to be bombarded by – hackers. It’s crazy.

If you’d like to leave a comment, communicate, connect, I invite you to the Page Readers Facebook page or you can tag me on twitter.






Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

Write Publish Promote at Cowgirlheart Media
Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we'll navigate the path to publishing success.

Latest posts by Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor (see all)

About Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor 2429 Articles

Write, Publish, Promote. Words I am learning to live by. Want this to be your motto too? Join me and together we’ll navigate the path to publishing success.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply