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memory-loss/brain-damage

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  • memory-loss/brain-damage

    First: I love GTD. It has transformed my approach to work and life, and I believe it has made me much more effective in making things happen.

    However: I think it is making me become prematurely senile. By writing everything down and keeping thoughts out of my head, I think my brain wiring is losing short-term memory ability, through lack of practice.

    Anyone else experienced this? Or, could this just be the long-term effects of youthful indiscretion?

    - Paul

  • #2
    I love GTD too, but remember the purpose of it is to free up your short term memory, or "RAM" to use on even more valuable things. If you don't love what you HAVE to do each day then find something else you DO love to do, and use your freed up resources for that. GTD will give you the time to do it.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by musashi
      By writing everything down and keeping thoughts out of my head, I think my brain wiring is losing short-term memory ability, through lack of practice.
      Wow, fascinating! Thanks for sharing your concern.

      Can you give us some specific examples of what's happening? I'm afraid I need more specifics to give an accurate diagnosis.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by musashi
        First: I love GTD. It has transformed my approach to work and life, and I believe it has made me much more effective in making things happen.

        However: I think it is making me become prematurely senile. By writing everything down and keeping thoughts out of my head, I think my brain wiring is losing short-term memory ability, through lack of practice.

        Anyone else experienced this? Or, could this just be the long-term effects of youthful indiscretion?

        - Paul
        A long time ago I posted here a phenomenon that I've experienced that contradicts yours.

        Long before I had heard of GTD, I did, occasionally, make lists. Sometimes I made shopping lists. I noticed that if I did not make lists I would forget to purchase some important item. However, I noticed that if I did make a list prior to shopping, I rarely needed to look at the list. So, if I didn't make a list, I had trouble remembering things. If I did make a list, I would be much more likely to remember things, even if I did not look at the list when I was at the store.

        I have found that writing something down strengthens my memory much more than merely making a mental note. So, writing stuff down does not clear my mind; it seems to strengthen my memory of the written item.

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        • #5
          I find that I really do have to look at my lists to remember what is there, especially with shopping lists. Unless I physically look at the list and go through it a number of times when I'm in the shop, making purposeful pointy actions at the things on the list I have bought so far, I will forget one or more things. That would be a disaster because it would mean that I would have to waste up to an hour going back to the shop another time, or else one or more night's dinner would be in jeopardy.

          I don't think GTD has caused this, I was like this before. The problem is that my mind is overworked because not only do I have to remember what I need to buy, I am also on the lookout for a good price on about twenty odd other things I might need to continue projects/ somedaymaybes, or stuff that might be used to start a new project, or chocolate chip cookies that are on sale. Not only that but I have to cope with the stress that I know people are thinking "what's this idiot doing standing in the middle of the aisle with a palmtop/ notepad". It's the notepad that's keeping it all together (just).

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          • #6
            I'm with Paul.

            I definitely have experienced the same thing you have Paul. Isn't it a funny feeling?

            It probably varies for different people, but for myself, even if I try really hard, I can't remember to do something or a list of three items to buy at the store to save my life anymore. Granted, I was never great with short term memory, but it is definitely much worse since GTD (maybe 4 years). My mind has become so reliant on and confident in my lists, that even if I tell myself I have to remember something, I can't do it.

            DA is totally right though, GTD does free up brainpower to be applied to other types of thoughts, like analysis. Just don't forget your lists!

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            • #7
              Hmmm, this might be a valid concern then. Maybe an unexpected potential bad side effect of GTD is losing short term memory capability through lack of practise as Paul suggested in the first message. If you don't use it, you lose it.

              Maybe we need to keep an eye on the way we actually do next actions to make sure we're not using GTD solely to acheive an easy life. The brain is a remarkably lazy device and will find any way it can get out of doing hard work! That's generally a good thing but not if it affects performance.

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              • #8
                I think that we still use it to keep routines like morning procedures, after work shower, meals etc so it's being trained anyway

                Regards,

                Eugene.

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                • #9
                  Typing or longhand?

                  The difference might be in whether you are typing your lists or writing them longhand. I find I am much more likely to remember something that I've written on a piece of paper than something that I've typed into the computer. Remember some learning trick from school that said if you write it down you are more likely to remember it. This was when writing was the only means of taking notes in class. Or maybe they were just trying to get us to take notes instead of staring blankly at the instructor.

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                  • #10
                    short term memory...

                    Musashi ,thats interesting, because I've been thinking something similar too but without really articulating it.
                    [I've been runnng GTD since around Feb. this year.]

                    However when I read Brents post asking for specifics examples, at first I coudn't remember one!

                    This area is subjective, = harder to assess.

                    Going off on a rabbit trail, I heard that Napoleon could dictate five different letters to five secretaries simulataneously, switching between them, and remembering where he left off. Also that Gauss forbade students in his class from writing notes down (don't know the reason). I'm sort of groping toward a question: do we need in some way to build up our capacity to remember things, and capturing everything on lists (so we can take them out of our mental RAM) mitigates against that?


                    ...Back from the rabbit trail
                    Brent, 15 minutes after starting this response I remembered an example!
                    This morning before going to the gym I thought 'must remember to (a) use the barbell to test a slight strain I had recently and (b) use the Tanita (specialist) scales'.
                    I didnt write either down. Well, I remembered (a) but forgot (b).
                    Problem is, this example is so subjective I could easily have done that before I started on GTD.

                    Another possibility that using GTD has made me more aware of actions , therefore more likely to notice & the ones that get missed.

                    But it does feel 'obvious' that if someone drops the habit of remembering things (replacing the act of remembering with a written task trapping system) then they are less likely to remember things.

                    Then again maybe Musashi and I committed the same youthful indiscretions!

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                    • #11
                      Is it possible that our short-term memory was over-developed in the pre-GTD years? That it's actually more healthy to live the GTD way?

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                      • #12
                        Maybe Brent's right - maybe we had been so used to dedicating a large portion of our brainpower to remembering stupid lists of things, that now that we don't, it feels strange.

                        I guess it's ok, as long as we aren't being forced to abandon our lists and still remember critical things. The system eliminates the need to remember, if we do it right.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent
                          Wow, fascinating!
                          Can you give us some specific examples of what's happening?
                          OK - the original post was in acute response to my scoring 75 (years old) on my friend's Nintendo Brain Age game (which I am no way that old). The game is a bunch of quizzes (including arithmetic, some "Memory"-type games, and word memorization) and is apparantly a big craze in Japan where they think it will decrease brain atrophy, or something.

                          Hey - I only played the one time, and the thing didn't recognize my handwriting!

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                          • #14
                            *roll eyes*

                            If you don't want your brain to atrophy, play chess. Or poker. Or Scrabble. Or learn a language. Or all of the above. Much more rewarding than silly electronic gadgets.

                            Katherine

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                            • #15
                              Ah, I've heard about that game. I've also heard that it's calibrated so that everybody starts out at about 80. Every initial score I've heard has been at least 70, in fact.

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