Using PersonalBrain to Learn, Inspire and Remember

September 9, 2008
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lightbulb.jpgFrom Edward Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle to product design, let your PersonalBrain bring your ideas home.

Where do you put your ideas and fledgling memories that mean the most but don’t really need a folder? There are snippets here and there: that interesting web site, or cool new car design…not always that important at the time, but always completely you.

As we surf the Web, meet new people and travel, we are exposed to new ideas and familiar ones that give us comfort and validation. Even though our minds process and retain these key events, over time and with our hectic lives, it’s easy to forget the most important project details and these new insights can get lost in daily tasks. Creating a digital memory or mental map of everything that is important to you will give you an expansive digital world new for inspiration and ideas.

When you think about your computer operating system you have folders to store documents and folders to store your bookmarks.  However, aside from the fact that all these information types are separated, I think we can all note that clicking through folders is less than inspiring, if not downright frustrating for people dealing with large volumes of information.  That’s where mind mapping and creating a PersonalBrain comes in. The idea is to create a meaningful context for the information you need to access and this context then serves as a springboard of discovery for both key documents and whimsical concepts that get your creative juices flowing or drive a project to success.

PersonalBrain’s flexible and visual links make it a powerful tool for organizing reference material for designers, researchers or technicians. For instance, Michaela Sachenbacher, CEO of Acronym, uses PersonalBrain not only to organize all her projects but to track new design trends and reference works that then lead to new product innovations in urban street wear.  Likewise, Christopher David, former CTO of Arlington County Virginia, not only uses PersonalBrain to organize IT projects and teams of people, but has also mapped out Harry Potter’s world with his daughter.


You can make your PersonalBrain a place for reflection and contemplation. Thoughts specifically designed for this can include future plans, hobbies and special interests. In addition to creating a network of Thoughts about your interests and passion, having a “trusted” conceptual space to store your ideas for later helps you stay focused on your task at hand. For instance, I research technology trends and, of course, while browsing the Web one can’t help but be distracted by all the election coverage. With PersonalBrain, rather than switching gears and loosing my train of Thought by reading these articles, I simply drag and drop them under my Politics Thought or Daily Reading Thought. This way I can get on with my project at hand with the confidence of knowing I haven’t lost that little snippet that interests me and I can activate it whenever the time is right.

PersonalBrain helps you put stuff away for later so you can clear your mind for your work. This idea is popularized in David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology. For those of you practicing GTD, you will be about to clarify your tasks and focus by using PersonalBrain as your trusted system for reflection, personal organization and completing your tasks.

But perhaps where I enjoy my Brain the most is for the very wild and uniquely different ideas that grab my attention that just couldn’t go anywhere else! For instance I had a meeting with Phil Chen, the bass player for the Doors. I noticed at his office he had signs posted all over that said “Mr Can’t is Dead”. When asked about this very peculiar yet inspiring sign he told me the story of Edward Leedskalinin, the extraordinary man who built a  Coral Castle  dedicated to his beloved with his bare hands and all alone. His castle is now a tourist attraction and monument in Florida.


When I returned from my meeting with Phil “Mr Can’t’s death” received a Thought in my Brain under personal motivation and Florida, with some jump Thoughts and connections to Earnest Hemmingway’s house in the Florida Keys (which is under Vacation ideas). Now where else could I put all this stuff and its infinite connections other than my Brain?!

So you see there really are no boundaries both technically and conceptually on what can be added into your Brain. The possibilities are endless. If you would like some additional ideas on Thoughts that will help capture your thinking read my previous blog post on “Must Create Thoughts for your Brain”.


But beyond these suggestions, what is really great are those nagging preoccupations that you are secretly obsessed with.

Whether its technology trends, Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States, BMW’s shape shifting car, pharmaceutical research, or  Mr Can’t…as your Thoughts come together over time, your PersonalBrain becomes greater than the sum of its Thoughts.


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Filed under: Applications. How You Can Use TheBrain!, Getting Things Done, Mind Mapping and Information Visualization, Self Discovery and Inspiration | Posted on September 9th, 2008 by Shelley Hayduk

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