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The Battle Between Getting Things Done And Yummy Chocolate Cake

I’m not the best one to talk about to-do lists, Getting Things Done, or the other various thinkings about task management. All too often, I still find myself just keeping those various things that need to be completed inside my head. I do have a Pro account with Remember the Milk so I can sync my tasks with my BlackBerry but it doesn’t take long for me to neglect the lists. Perhaps its a lack of discipline, but that’s not to say that I’m not productive…okay, maybe I’m not as productive as I could be.

Now I’ve heard plenty of people talk about the necessity of getting things out of my head and onto paper or a screen – something visible so I don’t have to try to remember it all. It’s that process of trying to mentally corral all those sundry tasks needing to be done where trouble lies for most of us. When was the last time you knew you had several things to do, but couldn’t remember them all? Or worse yet, knew exactly all the things that had to be done that day and felt overcome by a feeling of hyperanxious dread?

That last feeling was mine this morning…until I heard this story on NPR’s Morning Edition. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich from Radiolab talked about an interesting experiment conducted by Stanford University professor Baba Shiv. It turns out that when we store all of these tasks (or anything really) inside our brain’s short-term memory, our rational self becomes overloaded giving our emotional self space to take over. It certainly gives greater insight into the panicky feeling I was wrestling with earlier today.

Here’s the page for Willpower and the Slacker Brain (but definitely listen to the audio story…it’s both entertaining and enlightening):

What do you think? Make sense to you?

photo credit: kristinized (via Flicker)

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