Your mind is a Factory

Your mind was meant to be a factory, not a warehouse.

– Mike Vardy


Mike Vardy is a productivity expert who writes at

And this quote reminds me of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, where one of the things that stuck out to me is the emphasis Allen puts on not trying to memorize things. Get things out of your head.

And I like that because your head is for making things, not storing things. It is a factory, not a warehouse.

In business, don’t think that just because you do something often, you will easily remember it and won’t need reminders. The more things you are trying to remember, the less you can focus on what more you can do.

Free up space

For example: if every time you speak to a prospect you are trying to remember the correct questions to ask and in what order, that it a part of your brain not focusing on the conversation at hand. Not on the client, the new information you are gathering, or on new directions in which you can take that conversation.

This also applies in your day to day operations: if a part of your brain is focused on remembering the “next step”, that is a part of your brain that is not dedicated to thinking of new things (process improvement, customization, etc.).

For repetitive work, have your processes and systems written down. When getting information from a client, have a list of questions written down.

In addition to creativity or added value, if you will, the other simple reason for writing things down is to make sure that you don’t forget anything.

New Ideas

You know how you always have the best ideas in the shower or when you are about to fall asleep? Write them down! You won’t remember them otherwise.

There is added value here: writing something down – in particular with pen and paper – helps you to further develop that idea.

The common theme is: get it our of your head and on to “paper”, be it real or virtual.

Capture It

Have a place for capturing these ideas and needs. It might be a virtual notepad, a real notepad, or you can use a software tool; the most famous one is Evernote. But it doesn’t have to be a capture tool, it could be a task manager, an online journal, etc. There is no rule about the “right” way to capture information. The important thing is simply to capture it.

Then have a system. Dedicate time to reviewing new ideas, dedicate time to the standard tasks you have to perform every day or week. For example, Monday is a designated task day, or your lunch break is designated task time, etc.

Be systematic about it, so you are no longer having to remind yourself how to do things, but no longer having to remind yourself that you have to do them at all. It is part of your system.

To Do List

  1. Start capturing: either get the Evernote app or something similar, or else get a notepad and pen which you will use for this purpose only. 
  2. For at least one full week capture all your day to day work: regular tasks, one-off activities, meetings etc. 
  3. The following week take an hour to review this list and split it into categories: what is a repeatable process, what is an idea, and what is a task. This should be enough to get you started.