January 4, 2020

Clearing Brain Cache

Similar to how software development acquires technical debt over time, I would be remiss if I tried to paint 2019 as a series of achievements without the debt that came with it. And while none of the debt was catastrophic by any means, it certainly has taken a toll mentally and creatively. More importantly, one of the worst parts is that it means that there was less time to rest and recover. In other words, my brain cache was filling up and the processing power remaining to deal with each obstacle dwindled over time.

So what's the solution to a full brain cache?

While it's not as simple as clicking a few buttons to clear the cache, what I realized I needed to do was to get everything out of my brain into one place. And while this may sound simple, I have discovered that (at least in my case), the manner in which I documented this was important to a true empty cache state.

For example, during 2019, there were many attempts to map out what commitments I had along with the necessary infrastructure to go with it. More often than not, these sessions led to either paper and pen lists with some rough diagrams, or bulleted lists outlining what I thought I had to do. And while these provided short term relief, they often fell short because:

They often failed to be the single source of truth.

You might have noticed I mentioned infrastructure over the past few posts. And when it comes to emptying your brain cache, it's critical you have infrastructure you can trust because otherwise you spend energy worrying that you'll lose the information you just wrote down. So rather than being free of that mental weight, it's worse in some ways since you have this added anxiety.

It was represented in an overly simplistic format.

While bulleted lists and simple diagrams can do a lot for brainstorming, this often led to very narrow brainstorming sessions since it can become very linear very quickly. In other words, it was very easy to go down a rabbit hole listing out all of the things I had to do for XYZ thing because they were related; but when it came time to deal with ABC, it was hard to visualize how XYZ related to it.

So what did you do differently this time?

Rather than simply writing out multiple lists and attempting to create complicated JIRA projects to track dependencies and relationships between tasks, I used a mind mapping tool in order to help me visualize what was in my head. More importantly, the tool I'm using (MindNode) allows me to easily convert items into tasks which is paving the way for actionable items rather than just a list of random thoughts.

Final Thoughts

In the future, I certainly plan on providing a more in-depth guide as to how I used mind mapping to clear my head and build a blueprint to making progress on things; but for now, this will have to do. Another short post in the books as I build back up my resilience to content creation.