Your mind is an idiot, don’t rely on it

Most standardized testing manuals tell students the same strategy. 

Don’t try to do all the work in your head. 

Thinking a great place to start, but after a while, more thinking equals less doing. You’re stuck in the paralysis of analysis. And it’s not the healthiest emotional state for solving the problem. 

Only by writing your ideas down, the test prep experts say, do you avoid making careless errors on simple problems. Because it gives your brain a break. There’s no need to rely on the limited bandwidth of your working memory if you have the option of putting everything into a concrete form on actual paper. 

But this principle has much broader applications than standardized tests. Whatever kind of work we’re doing, we should all be careful not to do too much of it inside our heads. 

It’s like the waitress who tries to earn bigger tips by taking the entire table’s order without a pad or a pen, but then mistakenly serves your dairy free wife a cheeseburger with a side of ranch and a chocolate milkshake. 

Just write it down. 

Insisting on doing everything the hard way isn’t impressive, it’s exhausting. 


Are you doing too much work inside your head?

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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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