How To Organise Your Mind Like Einstein

Tanya Pinto
How To Organise Your Mind Like Einstein

Have you ever felt like you’re highly meticulous at work yet sometimes completely forget about a certain scheduled meeting or an urgent email? 

If you want to know about the secret of never missing an appointment again, we have some expert tips which you can follow. 

Nowadays we are constantly inundated with a flood of information. From constantly beeping emails and text messages on phones, to deciding which product or deal to buy; we are under the constant pressure of making choices. Often, the choices in question may have serious consequences – such as finalising a business agreement with a promising client, while others may be trivial decisions like which tie would look best with a stone grey blazer. Neuroscientists and researchers have established that such ‘decision overload’ can confuse and stress a person, and lead to unproductivity and loss of motivation. 

This presents two challenges: how to prioritize the choices that really matter, and how to make the best choice from a sea of information?

In a world of too many choices, being organized is highly essential

In his bestselling book, The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin explains how to achieve best results when faced with several tasks and multiple information sources. At the crux of his solution, lies the ‘organized mind.’ This is most easily explained with a historical anecdote. Think of the world’s most brilliant minds, and few can beat the genius of Albert Einstein. Einstein had assimilated scores of complex scientific ideas, yet stored all of that pathbreaking information in his legendary brain. What was his secret to having an organized mind? The answer is quite intriguing.

A reporter once interviewed Einstein. After the interview was over, the reporter requested Einstein to share his own phone number, so that he could be contacted should any more information be needed. Interestingly, Einstein opened the phone directory, took down his phone number on a slip of paper and handed it to the reporter. Understandably, the reporter was startled that the world’s most intelligent man couldn’t recollect his own phone number.

Einstein replied, “Why should I memorize something when I know where to find it?”

That is the key to achieving extraordinary success – the secret of an organized mind. Don’t clutter your mind unnecessarily – instead, store ideas in such a way that you can easily find them when you need them.

Four simple ways to build an organized mind

Stop trying to memorize every trivial piece of information: Just like Albert Einstein, learn to accept that it’s not worth using your precious mind to keep track of unimportant facts. Instead, use the astounding power of your memory to focus on information that can contribute to creative thinking or problem-solving.

Use external sorting: As Daniel Levitin explains in his book, the first step to organizing your mind successfully, is to use an external brain ‘extension.’ What this metaphor really means, is that you should take away the burden of categorizing information from your brain, and instead use smartphone apps, calendars or diaries to keep records of important tasks or appointments.

Use index cards: The best, most effective way to help your brain organize ideas and information is to note it down on index cards. Each card should contain only a single fact or concept and can be colour coded according to the category or theme of the fact. While this seems outdated in a tech savvy world, Levitin explains argues that organizing information on such cards makes it easy to memorize and access, which greatly supports the way in which the human brain stores knowledge. For those wary of using physical index cards, the best option would be to download a smartphone phone which allows writing and organizing information on virtual ‘sticky notes.’

Do, delegate, defer or drop: Once you’ve taken the information-organizing process out of your mind and transferred it to external sorting, Levitin suggests classifying  the tasks into four categories and accordingly taking the required action – do what’s urgent and you immediately can, delegate to others when it’s best for efficiency or you need assistance, defer the less pressing tasks for a later time and drop what’s not worth pursuing. As soon as you receive any information, immediately place it into one of these four categories, and then decide what your next step will be. 

Key takeaways: It is important it have an organized mind to successfully tide through an era of information overload. The best way to achieve this is to stop memorizing trivial information and instead adopting an external system to sort to-do lists. Use index cards and information organizing apps to categorize tasks into four categories: do, delegate, defer or drop. 

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