As a member of the human species, you are hard wired to achieve. You may not feel like that if you’re sat there: brain diffused from multitasking, web-thread-chasing and information channel hopping. The empty plate of cookies or pizza you can’t remember eating as you read about the latest thing you can’t remember reading on the screen five minutes ago: these things may feel a million years from hunting and gathering to achieve another day alive as your relatives did.
A counter-intuitive observation is that things get done when you consciously try to do less and have the will to stick to your commitment to do less. The more you even plan to do in an allotted period of time, the less you actually get done. Why is this? I often think of a computer to help me on this.
A computer has a hard drive to remember things – a bit like memories and knowledge in the human brain. A hard drive becomes fragmented when files and folders get broken down and spread out over the hard drive over time. This slows the computer down because it cannot process information as easily which is not held together. It has to read multiple places on the disk to piece together the information it needs. Defragmenting, or ‘defragging‘, ‘reorganizes the hard drive by putting pieces of related data back together so that files are organized in a contiguous fashion’. Contiguous means any two or more objects that are very close or connected in space or time.
When you undertake multiple tasks – or even create a long ‘to-do’ list for the day, you similarly spread your mental processing power. Thoughts on other tasks get in the way of you having continuous thoughts on a subject, and thereby slow your ability to achieve your objectives of getting things done. Even if things do get done, often the quality isn’t there because you haven’t been able to hold your attention on one thing for a sufficient period of time to get to the really good or break-through thinking. Don’t confuse this with the use of the conscious to take in multiple inputs for the unconscious to percolate on. In this concept, you absolutely focus on related subject matter for a period of time to gather inputs or ‘ingredients’ for your thinking, and then deliberately turn your conscious attention away to something else to enable your unconscious to work away in the background.
The problem with spreading your mental processing power as a human is that you haven’t got a power cable. Read more…