During this week I have been trying to apply
newly learned lessons about doing things.
One, did you miss the Boston national meeting
or a particular talk?
Did you know that you can listen to talks, some
with the accompanying slides, at a neat site.
Like most, it seems that there is not enough time
to do all the things that I must do and that I
want to do. We put undue stress on ourselves.
As Douglas Merrill writes in ‘Getting organized
in the Google era,’ we need to define our goals
and understand our constraints better. 2
Being able to find recordings like this is just one
Once we formulate our goals, with the help of
mentors and exposure to broader perspectives,
our career paths can be narrowed. This can
have unintended consequences so care should
be exercised in “narrowing too soon.”
It is mental constraints, however that I wish
to draw readers’ attention to. This is the focus
of the remainder of the post.
Attention vs. Notice
Realize that our senses are picking up and our
brain is filtering many diverse impressions of
our environment, signals, background and
clues related to data and information. The
“cocktail party” effect of noticing in a buzz
of conversation in a people filled room when
your name is called. Much of what could be
picked up is filtered. We switch the “attention”
to “notice” by placing items into our short
We can only rationally work with 5 to 9 things
at a time in our short term memory.
Multi-tasking and short-term memory overload
When we are doing important things, it is not
trivial to realize we cannot just go through the
motions on things. This holds true and important
for conversations, composing, and coordinating
motions and actions.
If we are performing things we are inserting
them into the short-term memory realm.
Very often we are trying to recall items from
our long term memory simultaneous to performing
Thus, we should recognize the limitations of
multi-tasking on our reaction times and attention
to detail and nuance.
Brain shifting vs. encoding into long term memory
We are asking our mental faculties to shift rapidly
between things when we multi-task and not
focusing. When we wish to remember things later
by placing them into long-term memory we need
to perform a mental encoding activity. It is hard
to do this during brain shifting activities.
If we need to rapidly shift, this is where recording
things down into a searchable format other that
long-term memory is valuable.
New computer tools and models of their use
are provided in the Merrill book. I am trying
to implement several.
Grouping tasks and synthesizing information
Our brains are not good at remembering, shifting
and making good decisions. Machines can do better
and we continually use them for that. Remembering
can be aided by synthesizing stories, creating links
to previous items and mental thought hooks.
Shifting our mental activity is aided by developing
“scaffolding” that bridges items providing flexibility.
Good questions unearths “outdated formats” and
“false constraints” that can limit us in our
decision-making. Rather than rationalizing a
“balance” think about melding things together.
define real vs. imagined limitations
judging decisions as melding ideas and actions
together rather than balancing activity.
So, this week rather than posting several items
from very valuable interactions, I focused on the
interactions. Interestingly, it seems to have reduced
my “stress level.”