A striking advertisement for dental hygiene depicts people whose eyes are bleeding, pointing out that if any part of one’s body besides one’s gums were to bleed, they would seek immediate medical attention. Likewise, I believe that if people were able to actually see the dripping mental leak that multi-tasking without a good reminder system produces, they would seek help post-haste.
After all, who walks around with their brains leaking out? That’s right: zombies.
As it happens, poorly-programmed software applications leak memory as well. Imagine this: you open an app, it allocates some memory from the operating system to do its job, and starts working on a particular task. When it finishes this task, it fails to release some of the memory it was using back to the main app. It then switches to another task, and the same thing happens. Eventually, the app can no longer function, because the cumulative depletion of all of these little leaks of memory have drained it dry. The app crashes.
If you think of your mind as the main software app, it’s not hard to see why constantly switching tasks while keeping some part of each task on your mind causes people to eventually crash as well. And unfortunately for us humans, we can’t simply turn ourselves off and back on again.
Fortunately, it is possible to execute without the continuous partial attention and persistent gradual depletion of mental resources that comes from simply working faster and harder whilst trying to keep it all in your head. In software, a process that helps restore leaked memory back to the main app is known as “garbage collection”.
Why garbage collection? Well, imagine what your office would look like if you never threw away a single piece of paper that crossed your desk. Fortunately, everyone knows how to clear up their workspace just before the boss shows up. Clearing your mind is another matter.
In the Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology, we show you how to eliminate the brain clutter that can lead to a nagging sense that you might be missing something, as well as the physical enervation and psychological drain on confidence that comes from letting precious bits of your mental energy drip away.
Finding the rubbish bin or delete key (and using it) is one part of the picture. The other part involves setting up a comprehensive set of “bookmarks” to establish the current state of play for everything else you care about in your life. This reminder system lives outside your brain, so that your mind can remain free to be present and creative with all of its precious RAM intact.
Essentially, that’s what those of us at Next Action Associates do. We teach you how to patch up the psychic leaks so that you can give 100% of your attention to each new moment, clean and clear.
After all, someone has to prevent the zombie apocalypse.