Creative Off-line Problem-Solving with Cognitive Task Lists

Creative work requires considerable perseverance and productive obsession. This in turn calls for a certain kind of mind. Not everyone is mentally inclined to think deeply and extensively. Without adequate self-regulation, brain power can be wasted by unproductive “perturbance”. That is when insistent motivators hijack one’s thinking, leading to repetitive thought —emotion, rumination, worry, obsession, perseveration, etc.

Moreover, as much as we love our Macs, we can’t spend all of our time on them. We need to exercise, run errands, commute, attend events, etc. In order to make optimal use of these potentially stultifying periods of time, it helps to treat them as thinking opportunities. Without adequate preparation, however, it is not always easy to select the right problem to think about while away from our favourite operating system. That’s why I recommend maintaining lists of cognitive tasks in repositories that are synced between your Mac and iPhone. The idea is to rapidly capture cognitive tasks on Mac or iPhone. Then, while you are away from your desk, when you have a spare moment to think, or before heading out, if you are not sure what’s the most productive problem to think about, consult your cognitive task list on your iPhone.

Today, I added a new section to Principle 7, “Apply Knowledge”, of Cognitive Productivity with macOS®. The new section discusses how I use Brett Terpstra’s nvALT and Ngoc Luu’s 1Writer to drive my brain when it’s offline.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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