Being through college and currently in graduate school surely tests the brains capacity. The experience confronts judgements and limitations of personal philosophy. It tests organizational skills and the power to process. There is a new movement developing for optimization of the brain - pushing us humans to the next level. Science and analytics of the brain are at an all time high, and this can help rapidly evolve work and development for our future green earth. We want everything faster, stronger, more efficient and more perfectly designed. Maybe taking this approach will make the world a better place?
One of the early standards for this movement was "Getting Things Done" written by David Allen. He delivered a new philosophy to the crowd, that which most curious minds were actively seeking. They fell in love. Some people use bits and pieces and some use all of it. It outlines a technical strategy of capturing and turning elaborate to-do lists (or blurry mind thoughts) into small actionable items which every day people can get a handle on. If you need help getting yourself organized with this ever busier life, I recommend giving it a try with one of his many books or podcasts.
But while GTD is incredibly effective for simple tasks, actionable items and most day to day activities - I am wondering how it works for deeper thought. I somewhat agree with Cal Newport here, another blogger who is especially interested in efficiency and how patterns of success occur in individuals. I believe GTD creates a level of structure within the mind that is comforting and reliable for many thoughts, but can also be isolating and restrictive to new ideas, breakthroughs and philosophical wonder that leads to profound change and creation. It makes us so focused on the checklist, that the bigger overarching ideas are never touched. Some of us might be turning into really effective bottom feeders in the nicest sense. Low hanging fruit pickers, might be a better term.
So, how do we get to that bigger more important thought space? I believe it is harnessed through being outside your normal environment and comfort zone e.g. your normal desk or regular 'mmhmm' conversations. I think some rumination of ideas should happen in your 'normal' place but more serious thought should then be moved to a fresh space. I think traditionally, historically, this state of mind used to be attained by stillness, an ultrafocus centered around a work desk or meditation stream, but I am not quite sure that would work for the masses today. I think we are now in such a fast paced, changing and evolving world, that the stillness/patience would be too much to expect from anyone in Gen Y. I believe we need to find that comfort zone and effectiveness with GTD, but then purposefully disrupt our mental train ride, for a new scenery and a new medium to display and spill our thoughts. If you primarily work on the computer, work on a pad and paper. If you work on paper, work on a typewriter. If you write everything down, talk about subjects out loud longer than you find comfortable. What do you think/feel?
I have found this to be especially effective in my work. Whenever a research question has stopped me in my tracks, or a life philosophy has zapped paralysis into my bones, a new environment or mode of capturing thought seems to generate that fresh, needed idea. How do you come to the realization?