The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. – Plutarch
I am enamored with the concept behind this quote. In this age of information, it is commonly concluded that the chief role of the human brain is to remember and store all that information we come across. While that may be one function of the human brain, it is not the most distinctive or the most useful.
We spend so much time trying to remember details that the brain’s primary function is lost in the mix. At most, the brain should be used to store information short term until we can move it to a more permanent home. This frees up our mind for creating and shaping. The more we can free our mind of details, the more creative it frees us to be.
This might sound counterintuitive, but it is true. All of us need a system to record reminders of things we need to do and people we need to see. If we have a reliable system, this frees our brain to focus on creating and shaping rather than remembering.
Three years ago, I read Getting Things Done, by David Allen. The quote above came from that book, and it shaped a fair amount of the thinking I have shared above. The original idea for this blog came from me wanting to explore how David Allen’s ideas can be helpful for the aspiring creative. (In fact, the title of the entry is also the original working title in my mind for this blog, and gettingthingscreated.com points here as well. ) Much of what I blog here will be about my own processes of clearing my mind of details so it can be set free to dream, innovate and problem solve.
For more on the Getting Things Done workflow (commonly known as GTD), take a look at the wikipedia entry. I’m also adding links to the sidebar of some of the GTD sites I have found most helpful.