Dumping your brain does you good

Posted by in Productivity

Even though you may be in possession of the world’s finest productivity system, it’ll still do you a world of good to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper in a distraction-free environment in order to gain a bit of calmness and perspective.

What’s in a note?

Why do people take notes? Ask the average person, and nine out of ten will answer either “to remind me of something” or “to remember something”. At this stage, notes function akin to a mental crutch – the value of which is not to be underestimated, as even this most simple of implementations frees up valuable resources in ones brain.

The next stage is the realization that by treating said notes systematically, ones productivity can be increased. And then there’s the third stage, which is to realize that notes aren’t just about remembering things or being more efficient. They can, in fact, change your entire perspective on how you work from ‘harder’ to ‘smarter.

From efficiency to effectiveness

One of the greatest benefits of the mind is that it tends to do some of its best work subconsciously. How many times have you been struggling with a problem, then putting it aside – only for a solution to pop into your head when you least expect it? What would happen if you could encourage this, and harness the obvious benefits more frequently?

As it happens, you can. All you have to do is to step away from your precious productivity system – which most likely is highly structured and rigid in its form – to do what’s often referred to as a brain dump.

It’s as easy as it sounds: grab a pen and paper, find a quiet place and do absolutely nothing. Then, when your brain suddenly lurches into motion, start making notes. Freeform notes, that is; I suggest only one or two keywords per line of paper, so that you can wander back later and add more as your mind bounces back and forth.

Make no attempt to elaborate on anything at all, just write down anything that crosses your mind. This can be a reminder to yourself about delivering that report, an idea for dinner, doing something fun with friends this weekend, a new key point for a slide in that report, and oh yeah – wine would be good, I’d like some more face time with the boss… and the children, too – and on it goes.

By doing this, you enable your mind to work in the way it’s built to work – randomly and associative. Efficiency goes out the window, and instead you’ll notice when you review your keywords that all sorts of ideas have bubbled up – and that you’ve been oddly attracted to important matters as these tend to surface in just these kinds of situations.

Lastly, you’ll be calmer, more focused and able to increase your effectiveness – not bad for a scribble session, is it?