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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Mind management not Time management by David Kadavy.


I finished this book in April 2023. I recommend this book 7/10.

Time management and to-do lists are the enemy of creativity. This book does a great job showing the process of separating the urge of the productivity hustle and carving out creativity time.

Get your copy here.

My thoughts and comments:

  • P17. AI expert Kai-Fu-Lee says it's the "optimization-based" jobs that will be taken over first. Jobs such as loan underwriters, customer service representatives, and even radiologists. Jobs that involve what Lee calls "narrow tasks," such as finding the ideal rate for an insurance premium, maximizing a tax refund, or diagnosing an illness. The task involving optimizing data will be the first to go. Which jobs are safe from the reach of AI? According to Lee, it's the jobs that require creativity.

  • P33. Elite athletes warm up before a big game. They wouldn't expect to roll out of bed and perform at their peak. Yet too many of us treat our to-do lists as if anything is possible at any moment. What if, at 3:22 every Wednesday, you didn't have to decide what to do? What if you managed your creative energy so well that, instead of staring, puzzled, at your to-do list, it was obvious what you should do at that time. This level of mastery is possible with mind management.

  • P45. Divergent thinking is a shotgun spray. Convergent thinking is a sniper shot. Divergent thinking is a summer breeze. Convergent thinking is a paring knife. So challenge in doing more and better writing, or the challenge in any creative work, is to balance divergent thinking with convergent thinking. You need to generate ideas, but you'll move forward with only the best ideas. As you complete your final product, you need to put on the finishing touches. But your final product is no good unless your ideas are good, too. As you refine your ideas with convergent thinking, you need to start a good idea—generated by divergent thinking.

  • P60. I have great ideas when I can get myself to write. But I easily get distracted. I set up on the kitchen table. I look out over the treetops through the windows, which stretch from floor to ceiling. I find that if I can have a good idea in the first several minutes of writing, I can keep going. Otherwise, I soon find myself staring out the window. My prefrontal cortex isn't there to help keep me on-task.

  • P62. Life is like an airport. You start the day with the best of intentions, but then delays lead to other delays, which lead to cancellations. By the end of the day, you have a stomach full of fast food, and you're sleeping on the floor. If you start your day working on the most important thing, there's less of a chance for other things to get in the way. So don't check email, don't check social media—just get right to the most important thing. Make it a rule, and it will be easy.

  • P78. Yes, it's useful to know what time it is. It's useful to know what day it is. It's useful to know the approximate length of a human life, and to try to plan accordingly. But in measuring time, we've lost sight of the point of time. The point of time isn't to fill as much of life as possible into a given unit of time. The point of time is to use time as a guide to living a fulfilling life.

  • P88. So, the four stages of control—which scientists widely refer to as the Four Stages of Creativity—are Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. More than 120 years later, Helmholtz's observations still stand up. Mentioning Wallas's four stages of practically a requirement for any research paper on creativity. My research session would be my Preparation, my night's sleep would provide Incubation, and my morning writing session would bring Illumination. Later — when I edited my writing — I would do my Verification.

  • P95. He lowered the model into a tub of water. He then lifted the model out of the water bit by bit — using a crank and pulley — revealing one "layer" of the figure at a time. He then carefully chipped away at the block of marble to match what he saw emerging from the water. It's not a mistake; we have idealistic beliefs about Michelangelo's process. The quote about removing everything that wasn't David seems like something Michelangelo would say because it fits the public image he crafted of himself. Michelangelo was known as "the divine one." He wanted people to believe that he was a gift from God — that his genius was magical and effortless. So much so that m as Michelangelo lay on his deathbed, he ordered piles of his process work and sketches to be burned. He didn't want the world to know how much Preparation his genius truly required.

  • P107. All I had to do was ask myself these questions: What kind of work do I need to do right now? What mood do I need to be in to do that work? And finally, When was the last time I felt that way? By thinking of the last time I was in my target mood, I could attempt to conjure up that mood again. I might try something and find it didn't work, but then I'd quickly try something else. Eventually, I'd find some combination of place, activity, and/or substance to combine into a ritual that would trigger the mood I was looking for.

  • P112. These are the Seven Mental States of Creative Work: Prioritize, Explore, Research, Generate, Polish, Administrate, and Recharge. While the Seven Mental States often match up with certain stages of creativity, they aren't so much about the state of your project. The Seven Mental States of Creative Work is all about the mood you are in while doing the work. If you master working by mental state, your creative work will progress reliably through the Four Stages of Creativity.

  • P120. When I began working according to my mental state, my productivity improved dramatically. I had deeper focus on the task at hand. By knowing what type of work I was doing, I could better settle into the right mental state, by knowing what type of work I was not doing. I limited the ways I could get off track. This is the hidden value of putting words {in brackets] while writing. Yes, it serves as a reminder that I need to look something up or brainstorm something, but it has another purpose. Creating a placeholder prevents me from switching mental states. It allows me to make the most of my creative energy while in the Generative mental state. It also allows me to get more out of my energy when I go back over the writing in another mental state.

  • P127. One way to create your own rituals for getting into the right mental state for the task at hand is to change your environment. According to Donald, to be more creative, look for open spaces, especially with a view. To be more analytical, look for closed spaces. So for the Explore, Generate, Prioritize, and Recharge mental states, go for open spaces, for Research, Polish, and Administrate mental states, for closed spaces.

  • P132. To start building the right routines, start thinking about your mental state. Ask yourself, What state do I need to be in to do this work? And When was the last time I felt that way? See if you can reverse engineer your way back into the state by recreating the conditions. Go to the same place, drink the same drink, and perform the same routine. If you can't return to the same setting, see if you can replicate the environment. Was the space expansive or closed? Was the lighting bright or dim, focused or dispersed? Was it noisy or quiet?

  • P154. Through observing how my mental energy fluctuated throughout the week, a predictable rhythm emerged. Here's how my mental states fluctuate during the course of a typical week. Earlier in the week, when my creative energy is highest, I spend more time in the Generate mental state. As the week wears on, I spend more time in the Polish mental state. By Friday, I can get the pesky details that I put off earlier in the week. My best creative energy is tapped out, and I can spend some time in the Administrate mental state

  • P155. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I don't have to worry about whether I need to wrap something up so I can get ready for a meeting. This is extremely valuable for creative work. It means that if I want to go down the mental rabbit hole and get completely immersed in a project, I can do that.

  • P160. To begin reviewing my calendar during my weekly review, I type out my schedule in a bullet-point list. I create bullets for each day of the week, sub-bullets for "day" and "night." Under those sub-bullets, I then type out any events on my calendar.

  • P162. Throughout the week, whenever something comes up that I need to address during my weekly review, I put it in my @thisweek note. If I remember a family member's birthday is coming up, I put a note in @thisweek. If I have a trip coming up that I need to plan for, I put a note in @thisweek. Then, I can feel confident that I'll see my note during my weekly review and take the proper action.

  • P164. On a smaller level, still is a technique that I call the Alternating Incubation Method. With this method, you can complete two projects in parallel while harnessing the power of Incubation. Let's say, for example, that I need to write two intro scripts for my podcast. I'll begin by writing a rough draft of the first script. I'll then start writing the rough draft for the second script. After that, I'll return to the first script to edit it. Suddenly, the first script is easier to write. It's been incubating while I was writing the draft for the second script. I alternate between the two scripts until they're both complete.

  • P166. When I review my calendar in my weekly review, I look ahead several weeks. If I see anything big coming up that I know will require complex planning, I make sure to get an early start.

  • P192. Every time I create something, I open a Sloppy Operating Procedure document. The first couple of times I'm creating the thing, my SOP is nothing more than quick notes I jot down. Some notes are mere questions I'm asking myself.

  • P216. I was terrified of what would happen if I couldn't keep my morning routine, but ultimately, I needed to be flexible. I hoped to live a creative life, and inherent in that concept of the word life. As the Allen Saunders quote goes, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." In other words, things don't go as planned. That is the plan.

  • P219. I told you in chapter 3 that Jon writes in a stream of consciousness. He explained to me that he'd literally type, Alright, what's the scene about? We've got a guy...There's a guy, he's looking through the window at this woman, and we're wondering...By writing everything, including his own thoughts, he gives himself enough leeway to keep moving.

  • P220. In the time management world, mental context doesn't exist. You're trying to get as many things done in as little time as possible. But in the mind management world, mental context is everything. You may be in the right physical context to write—you're sitting at your desk. You may be in the right temporal context, too—it's working hours during the week. But it's a waste to try to force yourself to do work you aren't in the right mental state to do. Tags are useful for organizing tasks according to physical context. For example, when I record intros to my podcast, I view all tasks tagged "Recording." I can only record while in my studio—or in front of my portable setup—so it doesn't do me any good to view those tasks in any other context. Tags are also useful for organizing tasks by mental context. Whenever I create a task, I think about which of the Seven Mental States I'll need to be in to perform that task: Prioritize, Explore, Research, Generate, Polish, Administrate, or Recharge.

  • P228. There are two big things that make inboxes powerful: One, inboxes let you close the conscious open loop about an idea. You aren't able to address the idea at the moment, so it goes into an inbox. Two, inboxes give you something to work with when you finally are available to process ideas. (Getting things done.)



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