Why you need an external brain

Do struggle to get to sleep? or do you wake up at some obscene hour unable to go back to sleep! Is it because your brain is too busy trying to sort the list of all the things you need to get done?

Let’s face it we have all been there. You can’t sleep because your mind is desperately trying to manage ‘stuff’.  Your brilliant brain is caught up in a game that it cannot win, trying to solve a problem it shouldn’t be tasked with in the first place.

Your brain is for thinking not storing.

David Allan author of Getting Things Done says your brain is great at lots of things.  It’s great at coming up with ideas.  It’s great at solving problems and thinking. But our brain to not meant to hold onto ‘stuff’.  Having way too much going on in your brain means your mind is unsettled. It is unsettled because you are giving it too much work, the wrong kind of work.

It is time to stop using your brain as your office and not store everything in our brain.  When you try to store everything in your brain it becomes cluttered, you can’t find stuff and you can’t have great ideas because of all the busyness. Check out the interview with David Allan on how to gain clarity.

What you need is an external brain . . .

What is an external brain?  Put simply an external brain is a device or process that allows you to take the things ‘on your mind’ out of your brain and put them somewhere else so they don’t distract you.

The most basic example of an external brain is a ‘to-do list’.  That trusty piece of paper where you write down your to-do’s.  It can be as simple as what you want to achieve in a day or complex like a bucket list for the year or life!  Just don’t lose the piece of paper!

Another great option is a computer based program like Trello, Wrike, Flow etc. These programs are like having a ‘to-do list’ in your pocket, that you can check, and add anytime. These programs also allow you to schedule tasks making it easier to link to your calendar and manage your time more efficiently. The chance of losing your list is impossible, as these programs can be used across devices like your phone, laptop and Ipad.

The advantages of using an external brain regardless of the format are insurmountable. An external brain;

  • allows you to de-clutter your brain
  • clears your mind and frees up space for thinking and creating
  • means you will sleep easier at night
  • ensures you always know what is next on your list
  • rarely forget things
  • allows you to review, prioritise and delete tasks
  • roll over tasks to the next day
  • gives you more energy for the important things
  • efficiently helps schedule time to get things done
  • have clarity for decision making

The point is an external brain is a place to safely store tasks and projects so you don’t have to constantly think about them. Once they are captured in your external brain they are safe and your mind can let them be, freeing your brain to function at it’s optimum.

How can you leverage an external brain? We would love to hear your thoughts.


PS – Our team have been using Trello as an external brain for over 2 years and we love it!

Phone (02) 6658 0775