On the Mindful Management of Mind Share

Miller’s Law in psychology states that the working memory of the average human brain is only capable of holding around seven objects (plus or minus two) at any given time. If your working memory is a little more robust, you might be able to keep nine objects. If your short-term memory isn’t as strong, you might only retain five objects. This is part of the reason why the typical phone number (at least in North America) is seven digits. You can only remember so much at a time.

And even then, we have to realize that human memory is terribly unreliable. Eyewitness testimony is hardly ever 100% accurate. Because our brain provides us with such limited resources on a short-term basis, we must then leverage what tools we have on hand to best manage the information we want to retain. Dealing with this notion of “mind share” is applicable to everyone and in every aspect of our lives.

I forget a lot of things a lot of the time, perhaps more than many, and that is why I have come to rely on technology as my invaluable assistant. The first step is to acknowledge your shortcomings. The next step is to overcome them.

Why would I try to remember the date and time for my dentist appointment when I can simply save that in Google Calendar? Why would I try to maintain a mental list of potential blog post topics when I can jot them down in digital form through apps like Google Keep? With so much information and so much data, it’s far too easy to get overwhelmed. It’s far too easy to get bogged down in the details.

Instead, it makes more sense to perform a “mental dump” of ideas, factoids and tidbits of information as frequently as possible. Write it all down, preferably in a format that you can easily search when you need to retrieve it. Automate that which can be automated. This way, you can free up your mental faculty and mind share to do the things that only a human brain can do. Be creative. Solve problems. Think outside the box, as it were, while stashing the precious data inside the box.

Your brain can only handle so much at a time. That’s why you must focus on what is important and offload the rest into some digital database. Forgetting isn’t so bad when you can just look it up.