It’s All About You,
Accidental Autobiography: Your Digital Mind
Navigating through someone’s PersonalBrain gives you a very intimate look at who they are. You can learn a lot about that person not only by the Thoughts they’ve chosen to add, but also the way things are connected.
Creating a Brain that moves beyond the sum of its parts usually happens by accident as your Thoughts and ideas grow. But actually taking on the task of self-reflection and exploration using PersonalBrain can be just as fun and rewarding. With this in mind, let’s explore some ideas for purposefully mind mapping yourself.
Other Tools for Digitizing Your Life?
When I googled digital memories a lot came up on storing photos and of course computer processing power. As a culture, it seems to me that we spend a lot of time capturing the moment through pictures and making sure we have the capacity to store a lot of information. However, linking everything together and assimilating the big picture on life events seems to be largely ignored.
I also searched for autobiographical software and found a few apps that looked interesting but they were focused on asking you questions, required filling out forms and didn’t enable integration of large external file sources. The stuff I found didn’t look fun or creative – more like a job interview in fact.
Conventional mind mapping applications seem like a natural choice. However unless you are under the age of 10, you will surely run out of space or need to create separate maps for each part of your life to be comprehensive. And that left me to wonder if perhaps one of the most powerful applications and uses of PersonalBrain could be your autobiographical Brain. According to David Allen the answer is yes.
Intentional Autobiography: The David Allen Brain
The idea of creating an autobiographical Brain was triggered by David Allen after our GTD Seminar. One of David Allen’s primary Brain’s was his “Autobiographical Brain”.
During the seminar he posed the question, “How do you map all your dreams, people, and everything that you have done in your life?” His answer: his PersonalBrain. Now this Brain was in fact separate from his other working Brain (“The World of DA”). It had the clear intent and purpose of looking back on his life. He had several interesting sections that would add depth and self-reflection to any PersonalBrain.
A Thought for Each Decade
David’s Allen’s autobiographical Brain organized sections of his Brain by year. Under each year he listed key events that defined this year.
What David has in his Brain under 1959
Now it’s understandable that you may not want to go back to every year of your life, though if you do this might be pretty cool. However, I do recommend at least a Thought for each decade or maybe stage of your life: childhood, youth, college, single, married, parenthood, and so on will be an inspiring launch pad for organizing important life events and reflecting on your personal growth.
Like any great novel your life will have many themes. You can create some key themes to guide your content creation. As you develop your Brain, don’t forget to come back to this area and interrelate other Thoughts by theme. Connecting and organizing your Thoughts by themes might lead to some interesting discoveries. You can also use Thought types or Thought tags for key themes in your life. Themes might include: Family, Religion, Learning, Romance, Business, Money and Exploration.
David also had an interesting section in his autobiographical Brain for all his jobs. It was really full. Creating a section like this will enable you to reflect on your jobs and add any lessons learned. You can also have a few laughs adding in all your part-time jobs you had to work your way through college!
“If you’ve had this many jobs it was either consultant or flake that show up on your resume, so I decided to do the consultant aspect of it”
Everyone’s Brain should have some Thoughts for people. Here you can add in family and friends. Remember to include key influences in your life - this could include visionary college professors, Pop icons and even your favorite authors and philosophers. If you want to turn this into an active area, you can drag and drop your outlook contacts and/or Facebook pages of all the relevant VIPS in your life.
For more information on adding people to your Brain see my blog post http://blog.thebrain.com/peoplenetworks/
If you have old papers written when you were in school or if you are still in school, add them here. It is always fun to go back and read your views and essays from another decade. You may want to scan and drag and drop diplomas and award certificates to highlight key milestones.
You might want to start with the day you are born. This can also be linked under your time based Thoughts. It’s fun to collect historical events and technologies that were hot the day you arrived on planet earth.
This is where autobiographical Thoughts can turn predictive. The past can be linked to the present and future. As you look back on your life you can create new Thoughts for key goals and objectives you want to achieve.
Well, I asked a few historical VIPs and they said:
“No one can give you better advice than yourself.”
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
– Aldous Huxley
And the most extreme answer was …
“The unexamined life isn’t worth living”
Sometimes knowing where you want to go depends on where you have already been. As companies, countries and individuals an analytical look at our past can illuminate where we want to go in the future. You can put aside old tendencies, expand your mind and be armed with the knowledge of your past right in front of you.
This idea of historical context is something that Jerry Michalski talks about a lot. This is the guy with the PersonalBrain of over one hundred thousand Thoughts. When he’s thinking about a new social networking site or technology, he wants to see every other thought in his Brain on that subject for a complete context. The same principle applies to life and business decisions. This meta-awareness can enable you to be very decisive and provide massive intelligence on what you need to do next. If you want to plan where you’re going, it certainly helps to know where you’ve been and perhaps more importantly, where you are.
Besides which, if you don’t mind map yourself who will? Ten years from now pulling up your thinking from a decade ago will be pretty cool. You know Socrates would agree.
Resources for Knowing Thyself
“Getting Things Done” Recorded Webinar Featuring David Allen
David Allen Best-Selling Author and Acclaimed Productivity Expert discusses “the Art of Stress Free Productivity” and shows his own PersonalBrain. This seminar is about the groundbreaking work-life management system GTD and your PersonalBrain.
Part 3 Touring David Allen’s Brain ——Most Relevant to this blog
Part 4 Q&A with David Allen