Sunday, November 30, 2008

The value of “clear space”

I was reading an article from Intel recently saying they have noticed a decided drop off in innovation with the advent of interruptions (linked to things like email). They believe that because people’s head are so full of things that are perceived to be urgent that there is little room for new ideas to form. Intel are trying to foster the idea of “clear space”. Time simply devoted to thinking rather than doing.

 

I can’t but equate this back to the eastern philosophy of meditation. Many people I know laugh meditation off as some ‘new age hippy’ treatment and would never be caught engaging in the practice. To these people I’d content that it far more difficult to empty your mind of thoughts and keep it empty for a period of time. If you don’t believe me then try it for yourself. See how long you can go without thinking about anything. I’m certain you’ll find all sorts of things popping in there. Maybe then you’ll appreciate that finding ‘clear space’ is far more difficult that first imagined simply because we have become so accustom to filling it.

 

If your mind is a cup and constantly overflowing how is anything else ever going to get in? If you feel your mind is always preoccupied with ‘stuff’ perhaps you need to look at exactly what ‘stuff’ is in there. The problem is that most people believe they have to remember everything they need to know in their heads. For example, some time during the day you drill yourself into ‘remembering’ that you need milk. Later on, you find yourself standing in the dairy isle of a supermarket trying to rack your brain for what you needed to remember. Everyone’s been there.

 

The simplest way to empty the cup of your mind and allow it some ‘clear space’ is to move information from your brain to a trusted location where you can retrieve it if necessary. Where this information ends up doesn’t really matter, what matters is that your brain is confident that it is somewhere safe where it can be retrieved later and so no longer was to worry or ‘think’ about it.

 

Personally, I find a pen and paper to be the fastest, most convenient and flexible way to get things down however electronic means like OneNote, Evernote or whatever can achieve the same result. The secret is you have to find out what works for you. You’ll also find that you’ll improve the system that you use as you go along, which is exactly what is supposed to happen. The important thing is to take steps to free you mind from the mundane issues that can easily be dealt with in other ways.

 

I think that you’ll be surprised at how quick it is to create some mental ‘clear space’ and how easier things become once your mind has room to accept and process information. Your mind is like a high performance engine. If you keep filling it with crap fuel it is never going to reach its potential. If however, you highly refine what goes in then you are guaranteed of top performance.