When your brain becomes Plan B
There’s a perfectly good reason for why, even though we try our very best, we end up falling back on our brains when we try to remember something about something instead of just making a quick note of it. It’s called accessibility.
Are you Getting Things Done?
Disclaimer: unless you’re familiar with David Allen’s productivity methodology dubbed Getting Things Done, or GTD, you might lack some context for the theories laid forth herein. In brief summary, a key concept of the GTD is to note down every thought which may at some point either become either something you would want to remember or do something about – for then to process it later at an appropriate time and place.
As it happens, I fervently concur with Mr. Allen, as my view of this is that our brains are not storage facilities – they’re factories.
And it’s always with you. Nothing beats your brain for quick access to information – if only you were able to infallibly access every scrap of information you needed at any given point in time. Which I’m sure you’ve noticed is simply impossible. Our brains are good, old-fashioned analog tools which do an exceptional job of many things (although not simultaneously, despite our deepest desires to marvel at multi-tasking), but they’ll never outperform even a simple scrap of paper for the act of total recall.
Still, it’s so easy to try and store something there. Just like kicking off your shoes right inside the front door and throwing your jacket on the post by the stairs. It’s accessible. It’s easy. It’s quick. It lets us be lazy. And us humans really do want to be lazy – at least when it comes to things we don’t care very much about, which can be said about a great many recurring tasks and chores on both personal and professional levels.
It’s not boring
The second part of the reason is that it’s not boring to use our brains. It’s second nature in a way that taking notes will ever be – because taking notes is boring. Sweet Moses, it’s boring. In fact, you will most likely only learn to partially enjoy taking notes when you’ve been burned a sufficient number of times for not taking them.
And so, your brain becomes Plan B, since Plan A is less accessible, a little harder, a little slower and takes a little more effort.
Deep inside, though, you know Plan A is the one you should be using, so what can you do to stop from reverting to your brain? That’s easy enough, but it still requires some practice to make a habit: get yourself a smartphone with either voice recording capabilities or a note-taking app (preferably with a hardware keyboard for speed, if you can), and carry it in your pocket at all times.
Or, you could try a Hipster PDA, which may very well do the trick for you, but on a personal level I prefer the ability to synchronize the notes I take from my smartphone to a PC where I don’t have to manually copy them. Still, there’s no denying the charm of the Hipster PDA.