If you’re like me, you’ve had fantastic ideas in the shower. But when you’ve tried to recall them while drying off, they’re nowhere to be found in your memory. So why is this? Simple. When the brain introduces a bright idea or insight, it does so into your short-term, or working, memory. Unfortunately, thoughts in short-term memory only last three to five seconds before they are flushed out of the way by the next incoming thought or stimuli. The only way to capture these great ideas in through instant rehearsal. In other words, you’ve got to stop whatever you’re doing immediately and focus ALL of your attention on that great idea. Here’s an example:
Not long ago, I was taking a shower and thinking about something I had to teach in an upcoming seminar. Suddenly, it dawned on me exactly how to explain the concept. But not having anything to write with, I began to write it on the steamy shower door. Even though I knew these words would disappear within seconds as the steam from the show erased them, I was mentally rehearsing them and moving this explanation from short-term to long-term memory. When I got out of the shower, the first thing I did was grab paper and pen write them down along with any other associated thoughts and ideas. I still have that water-stained paper because just looking at it helps me to remember the concept.
You can do the same thing, in the shower, while you’re driving, pushing a shopping cart, chatting with a friend, or anywhere else. The key is instantaneous rehearsal. Drop what you’re doing and focus all of your attention on recording the idea. Don’t believe this works? Ask the smart-decision makers you know. They’ll tell you similar stories.