Dr. Daniel Levitin is a musician, record producer, Author of 3 consecutive #1 bestselling books and Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at McGill University.
We need to use our environment and things in our environment as extensions to our brains. What that means is that we need to free our brains of drudgery, trivial reminders, chores, reminders etc by putting all this kind of information in “Brain Extenders”. A simple Brain extender is writing down everything that is on our minds once a day on a piece of paper or a dairy. As soon as you write things down, your brain stops bothering you and frees you to do clear thinking. Its tremendously powerful in fomenting innovation and creativity. Once our brain is free of all these reminders/chores/errands etc, it can focus on thinking big thoughts, thinking strategically and solving problems.
In some ways, by writing down everything that is on our minds, we have built an extension to our brain.
The 2 Thinking Modes
In order to do high-quality thinking and solve complex problems we need to alternate between task positive and task negative modes of thinking.
Task Positive: We are engaged in this mode of thinking when we are fully engaged and focused on a task at hand. We are usually working towards a goal and an have an outcome in mind. This is cognitively very very demanding and depletes neural resources.
Task Negative: This is the daydreaming mode. We are not cognitively engaged in any goal oriented task. This repletes our neural resources. We allow our mind to wander. Examples of task negative activities:
- Walking in nature
- 15 minute nap
- Indulging in art or music
An example of a highly productive work session would be 1 hr 45 minutes of Task Positive engaged thinking followed by 15 minutes of Task Negative down time.
How to Stop Procrastination
As per Piers Steele (Univ of Calgary), world’s foremost authority on procrastination, there are 2 faulty beliefs that cause procrastination:
- Life should be easy
- Our self worth is dependent on our success.
Steel’s equation of procrastination likelihood = (Time to complete a task * distractability )/ (self confidence * task value)
Daniel’s multiplier = reward delay
New Equation = (Time to complete a task * distractability * reward delay)/(self confidence * task value)
Reward delay: Our Brain is wired for immediate rewards. We put off long term tasks which do not have any potential for immediate rewards.
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