Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mind Mapping for Problem Solving and More

Mind Mapping is for Problem Solving and lots more

Mind mapping from Tony Buzan is one of the coolest techniques you will ever learn for problem solving, note taking, learning and organizing your thoughts.

Search the internet and you will find millions of pages about it. Mind mapping is useful for almost any information-related task you care to name. Want to solve a problem? Record a lecture? Try a mind map. Want to prepare a presentation on the run in minimum time – use mind mapping and commit the result to Power Point. Need to plan a meeting? Track a meeting? Summarise a textbook or report?

Here is how to do it: its as easy as one-two-three …

You’ll need a writing space (pad, sheet, whiteboard, whatever), and a handful of colored markers. It works just as well using a free mindmapping tool like Freemind. I generally prefer paper and pens.

1. Topic goes in the centre – best is to embroider it with an image or even just a few colours to help turn on the right brain.

2. Then radiate your ideas from the centre – printing on lines. This is important. Why? – because it works.

3. Once you are done, you can add links, images, highlights – whatever is necessary to make the information come alive for you. If you are using mind mapping for study notes you will want to add images and colours to help make the written information more memorable.

You are using hierarchical thinking – much better for many tasks than traditional linear top-left-to-bottom-right notes.

It turns out that this is the way the brain works. The brain seems not to be optimized for traditional linear notes.

And the proof is in the pudding. Try it – you’ll see. I have been teaching mindmapping and problem solving for over twenty years, and my students never fail to be amazed at their results with this great tool.

Richard Broome has been teaching Thinking Skills workshops for many years in South Africa and Australia. There are sessions upcoming in Perth and Joburg.

For more info fill out the contact form top right.

Advanced Power Learning for Teens

Powerlearning for Teens in Houghton
Getting ready to Fly at a PowerLearning session

Would you like to have 4 hours of intensive coaching in Power Learning for your teenagers with Richard and Lulama?

ITS FOR TEENS …  That is:  13 – 19 years old

They desperately need to know what I wish I had known when I was at school and Varsity, i.e.:

* How to study
* how to concentrate
* How to remember
* Tips on Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping®, dumping, exam planning, and much more!

A seriously cool and fun session. Typical feedback is: “I actually learned a lot!”

I’m offering the session mainly as added value for parents who have attended the Thinking Skills workshop previously.

As you know, we believe learning should and can be fun. So we will have a lively conversation with those attending.  We’ll show them how to get through masses of textbooks in the shortest possible time so the have more time for the important things in life.

We’ll also cover: (Run this past the family at supper tonight!)

• How to take better notes and become teachers pet for the quality of your projects.

• How to manage study and homework time better.

• How to organise your thoughts onto paper better.

• Learn how your memory works – be noted for your brain power.

• Practice mnemonic techniques to recall names and lists.

• How to boost recall of a study session to find more time for life.

• How to turn on the mind/body chemistry of the “Aha!” response with meditation.

• Be inspired by your brain function and latent power.

• How to improve your success by use of breaks.

Venue:  Houghton TM Centre –  Sat 16 June
Cost:    R697 pp inc VAT.

HOW TO BOOK: Its easy! Just use the contact form above right

If you have already attended one of these courses with Richard, we’d love to hear of your successes!  Use the “message” field of the contact form top right.

Time Management. A Timer is your Top Tip

Time management top tip
Time Management Tool

Time management has always been a problem of mine. I don’t know whether it’s because I have a lifestyle (call that a job) that means lots of interruptions. or whether its because, like you, I have lots of interests.

At the end of the day do you find that you ended up not achieving that which you set out to do? You got hooked into all kinds of stuff despite having had a do-list, either as a proper list or as a mind map? So you search for time management tips.

Enter Sonia Simone. She’s a blogger, like me, but much more professional. And here is a little idea you could use from her.

Get hold of a timer. Something that can count down for an hour.

Decide what you want to do that day, the core issues, and of course, write it down. Thats another tip, by the way, from the great Jim Rohn: “Never start the day until it is finished on paper.”

Then pick the issue you want to handle.

Set the timer to count down for 50 minutes and get cracking. At the end of the 50 minutes, IRRESPECTIVE of where you’ve got to. STOP. Take a goof-off break for 10 minutes.

Then start again.

It’s absolutely amazing, it works.

The first time I tried it you can’t believe how tidy the office got before I hit the button. Classic procrastination behavior. It seems my brain knew that I was not going to allow myself to be interrupted for the 50 minutes and that I was going to concentrate. And I did.

Try it.

P.S. The reason its important to take the break is that its known to improve creativity. You have ideas in the break that you can use during your next work session. Its called the Remeniscence Effect. And the reason you break, irrrespective of where you are up to, is because studies suggest that your recall may be better when you get interrupted. Its called the Ziegarnik Effect after Bluma Ziegarnik, a Soviet psychologist who passed in 1988. Its the kind of stuff we talk about in my workshops when we got on to time management tips.

Amazing facts about Your Brain

My Thinking Skills workshops discuss the brain and how to use it to read faster and accelerate learning.

human brain

The human brain has often been described as the most complex and refined physical structure in the known universe. Did you know that nerve impulses travel at up to 240 km an hour? The brain uses the same amount of power as a 10 W light bulb. I reckon that during meditation it probably uses even less. Holding many times more information than any encyclopaedia it uses 20% of the oxygen in the bloodstream, despite making up only only 20% of body mass.

Apparently the brain is even more active at night than during the day. That doesn’t surprise anyone that’s been using a computer at night. Did you know that this practice is really really not recommended? Like what I’m doing right now. Ayurveda says using a computer at night creates deep-seated Kapha imbalances that are hard to treat.

People with high IQs are supposed to dream more than others… And did you know that braincells – neurons – continue to grow throughout life? These building blocks of the brain were thought to be not capable of regeneration after destruction by substances such as alcohol in the bloodstream. Nowadays brain cells are thought to be capable of being regrown from scratch. The evidence, obviously, is to be found in animal studies.

There are many types of neurons and data transmission rates along these differs. Although you can have a headache it turns out the brain itself does not have pain receptors. So it’s the tissues, nerves and blood vessels surrounding the brain that have pain receptors and can give you the headache. Like the rest of the body most of the brain is water. And it’s not necessarily grey, more likely to look like oatmeal porridge, squishy, pink and jellylike.

There are a ton of other fascinating facts about the brain and body to be found in this incredible blog by Eric Allen Bell. The web is saturated with this post and very good stuff it is.

For more on the brain and how to use it – contact us using the form on the right. We run regular Thinking Skill workshops to boost your productivity and accelerate your learning.

Ten Brain and Body Management facts

Thinking Skills Training is about the brain. But how do you use it to accelerate learning and improve memory? Did you know these ten amazing facts about brain and body?

1. The Brain. The average human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells. This is ten-fold the estimate of twenty years ago. I guess statistical techniques have improved–or we are getting brainier. And nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as over 270 km per hour.

2. Sneezing. Have you ever tried sneezing with your eyes open? It’s supposed to be impossible. When you sneeze, apparently all your bodily functions stop, even your heart. Wow.

3. The Eyes. Look at your left eye in the mirror. Now switch your gaze to the right eye. Did you see you eyes move? The brain’s video circuitry must suppress the blur like that you see when you leave your video camera on and film a blur of sky and shoes. If you go blind in one eye you only lose about one fifth of your vision but all your sense of depth.

4. The Tongue and Speech. It takes the interaction of 72 different muscles to produce human speech. Relative to size, the strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

5. Hair. An average human scalp has 100,000 hairs. OK, I’m below average.

6. Spinal Nerves. The most sensitive cluster of nerves is at the base of the spine. I guess that’s why injuries to the base of the spine are so problematic.

Find the rest of these fascinating irrelevant facts here. And now for some great first-aid tips – the full story is here

7. Painless Injections. Ask to be shown exactly where the needle is going to go. Then squeeze near the spot and you’ll feel it less. Just make a circle with your thumb and forefinger and push down a few seconds before the shot. Apparently, this movement fools nearby nerves, making the injection feel more like a gentle prod. Wow. I can’t wait for my next injection!

8. Relief from Hiccups. Hiccups can be literally a pain. Try this: Take a very deep breath and hold it for about 10 seconds. And then, without exhaling, breathe in more air and hold for another 5 seconds. Then, one more time, breathe in as much air as you can, hold for 5 seconds, and breath out—hopefully no more hiccups.

9. Throat Tickles and sore throats Cure. Tickle something else…your ear to relieve a tickle in the back of your throat. Touching the area around your ear creates a reflex in the throat that eases the annoyance. Terrible Tea made from a little ginger powder, cinnamon and cloves, in the proportion 5-2-1 is an old Ayurveda remedy that gives serious relief. And if you have a sore throat, try gargling with a tea made of hot water and a teaspoon of turmeric.

10. Stuffy Nose Cleared. Your body has a natural mechanism to unclog your nose. Just push your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then press between your eyebrows with a finger. Keep it up for about 20 seconds and your sinuses could start to drain. I’d like to hear your feedback on this. Failing relief, try your local Ayurveda Products (Pretoria)  – or Google for the New Zealand supplier if you are in Australia – for an inexpensive herbal preparation called MA 251. It’s an absolutely astounding remedy from Maharishi Ayurveda, and no side-effects.

More about this celebrated and unusual personal development workshop here. Now how about leaving a comment below? We’d love to hear your wierdest tip.

Sharpen up by getting enough Sleep

Accelerated learning and study needs sleep! Beat insomia with theses tips gathered from personal experience and sources like Dr Mercola. Getting enough good quality sleep is crucial in keeping your edge – for study work or any other demanding activity.

Two factors affecting insomnia are light and temperature.

Melatonin considerations suggest you sleep in a dark room and don’t turn on the light when you go to the bathroom in the night.

Also, turn off your TV, computer, iPad and any other light emitting technologies at least an hour prior to bed time.

If you have to use a light, try a so-called “low blue” light bulbs in your bedroom and bathroom. These emit an amber light that will not suppress melatonin production.

Studies suggest ideal bedroom temperature is around 15°. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.

Checking your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) is a good idea, as these too can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin, and may have other negative effects as well. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. Keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least a metre.

Also avoid keeping cell phones and portable phone bases on your night stand. Keep cell phone chargers should be kept at least four feet away from your bed, while portable phone bases and wireless routers should be kept as far away from your bedroom as possible. Avoid running electrical cords underneath your bed.

Beware of what’s on the other side of your bedroom wall, and under the floor. Avoid sleeping with your head against a wall that has electric meters, circuit breaker panels, televisions or stereos, for example, on the other side. All of these are source of magnetic fields that you should sleep at least four feet away from to limit dangerous exposure.

Avoid sleeping pills!

Aside from being pathetically ineffective, sleeping pills also come with a slew of detrimental and potentially dangerous side effects.

Most people do not realize that certain sleeping pills — those containing Benadryl — can have a half life of about 18 hours. So, if you take them every night, you’re basically sedated for a large portion of the day as well! Not surprisingly, they’re associated with cognitive deficits in the morning.

Light exercise, eating the evening meal early, enjoyable relaxing activity like reading all help good sleep. Transcendental Meditation is a great help.

Good night!!!

Who learns the most?


“The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach.” Paulo Freire (1921-1997)

It is true that one of the best ways to learn is to teach.

It gives us a better understanding of the material from the ground up.

If we can take something complicated and distill it down so that someone else can learn it, we are mastering the concept ourselves.

We are asked questions – questions we might never have thought of on our own.  In finding the answers, we learn more about the concept, and about ourselves.  So the students become the teachers as well.  We are all teachers, just as we are all students

At Thinking Skills we have always used adult learning or active learning principles to guide the workshop process. And we cover a great deal of practical how-to and where to go for help. With choosing a meditation technique for example. That may be why the sessions attract such consistently great feedback:

A brilliant light hearted, but extremely serious course.
Richard, Standard Bank, Johannesburg

I found the course to be totally enjoyable. Prior to attending I felt that I had zero creativity, limited problem solving ability, too slow comprehension of reading matter and far too long summaries. This course has been a tremendous confidence booster – I now know that I have creative ability, quicker reading and comprhension and improved approach to problem solving. Many thanks for a course that I can use everyday, from today.
Agatha, AECI, Modderfontein

Exceptional course because I go away with more skill in my repertoire – very valuable. Richard is an energetic course leader – professional language, dress and articulation.
Frek, Iscor, Pretoria

The presenter is the best I have come across in my entire life.
Malcolm, M.S. & A, Krugersdorp

This is the best course I have ever been on. (Most educational).
Danie, Richards Bay Coal Terminal, Richards Bay

Excellent course – met and exceeded my expectations. Fun, stimulating and thought provoking! Thanks Richard for “unlocking” my mind!
Andre, Old Mutual, Cape Town

For the first time ever, I was never bored. Excellent course. Will certainly recommend it.
Nasir, AECI, Modderfontein

A wonderful course. I will recommend it highly to friends and colleages. I feel very positive about the rest of my life and have so many new facts/ideas and ways of improving all aspects of my work and personal life. Thanks Richard.
Debbie, Old Mutual, Cape Town

Fantastic. Not often does a seminar cover the practical application of information with immediate results.
Douglas, Caltex, Cape Town