background apps, your brain, and personal systems

a few months ago i was wrapping up a productivity session with my friend ian. in that last call he made an analogy that boiled down a bunch of the conceptual elements we’d discussed.

operating without a functional personal system is like running your phone with a zillion background apps.

his analogy is good on so many levels. not only does running a bunch of background apps drain your battery, but it also makes the device operate slower and makes it harder for the app you’re focused on to run.

i think one of the places that analogy sprung from was our discussion about david allen’s getting things done methodology. in his book he explores how good the brain is at not letting things slip. unfortunately, that same function can hinder concentration. if you need to be focused on writing, for example, but you keep thinking about that bill you need to pay, you’re unlikely to get the best writing done. having a system to deal with things like that can help you operate at a higher level of efficiency.

of course, it’s unlikely that we’re ever able to close all the background apps of our mind. and in some cases, we actually wouldn’t want to do that anyways. but it is pretty key to be able to close things down and focus when we want or need to.

solid analogy, ian! <3

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