Reasons to Empty Your Psychic RAM by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In General
Nov 21st, 2013

A computer’s RAM (Random Access Memory) can become overloaded and then shut down a whole computer. David Allen describes the concept of ‘psychic RAM’ and notes that it, too, can become overloaded and shut you down.  [Book recommendationGetting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity].

Consider your brain and all the things that you are trying to keep in mind at any given time as your ‘psychic RAM’ and tend to it. This is a powerful concept. This set of tips provides some of the reasons why you need to empty your psychic RAM. The next set tells you how.

  1. Your stress is reduced. It is highly stressful to be trying to remember the multitude of tasks, people, projects, commitments, and ideas that you could have at any one time…Get all of this out of your head and into a system.
  2. You won’t have things fall through the cracks if you get them out of your head and onto paper or an electronic system. And, related to the previous tip, it’s highly stressful to worry about things falling through the cracks or to deal with the aftermath of things that have fallen through the cracks. Either way…it’s not pretty.
  3. You are more clear-headed. You can think without the muddle.
  4. You are more effective. Prioritizing in your head is never the best place. And if your psychic RAM is full, that’s where you’re likely to be attempting to figure out what needs to be done, when, and in what order. Not good.
  5. You are more efficient. Planning in your head doesn’t lead to efficient practices. Plus, your own distractibility is increased when random thoughts are whirling in your brain, likely to pop up at any time.
  6. You are less likely to be overwhelmed.  Having to-do’s of every type – large and small – swirling around in your head is overwhelming because there is no sorting of them.  It’s a constant whirring sound in our brains and it’s easy to freak out.  (Hmmm…how would I know this?)
  7. You are more creative.  Clear open brains allow for more creativity.  As a professor, you are required to be creative in your research, your teaching, your handling of problems in your community, etc.  Clear out your brain by emptying your “psychic RAM” so you can bring your most creative brain to the party of life.
  8. You are a better listener.  Since multitasking is impossible (we know this from reading The Myth of Multitasking), if you are trying to keeping 5 or 15 or 75 tasks and responsibilities in your head, then it is very difficult to focus on what someone else is saying (also known as listening).  You are too busy trying to remember what you need to remember.
  9. You can sleep.  Too many nights, a full brain is part of what keeps us awake.  It’s stressful, we’re trying to sort through possibilities, we attempt to prioritize, and so on.  This does not lead to a rested self.  And an unrested faculty member…not a pretty sight.
  10. And hold onto your hat because this is the reason to trump all reasons….when you have emptied your psychic RAM, there’s room in your head to actually think.

Whew! Aren’t these good reasons!  Tune in next week for the WAYS to empty your psychic RAM.  I know you can’t wait!!!

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