Feb
11
2013

Exobrain

A long time ago I studied a book called “Mind Performance Hacks”. I’m a nincompoop you see. If my brain were a country it would look like this famous picture of North Korea. I have to do something to turn the lights on up there.

Anyway, one of the hacks described in this book is to build an “exobrain” which means you deliberately manipulate your environment to serve as an extension of your brain. An exobrain can be anything from a Franklin Planner (remember those) to Gmail. Gmail in particular is an incredibly powerful incarnation of the exobrain. You can search, index, store and retrieve all manner of data using Gmail. Every time you search your inbox you are utilizing your exobrain.

But you don’t need a PC to have an exobrain. Pretty much anything can serve as an extension of your brain. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame wrote an interesting piece about how he designed his house to serve as an extension of his brain. I was particularly fascinated by the idea of designing a working space to induce specific mental states. As a CrossFitter my working space is the gym. When I step onto the floor, the environment reprograms my brain, making it my de facto exobrain. This is why having an open space, free of clutter, is so important. Your mind fills the space that you give it. If you give your mind space who knows what you can accomplish?

The flip side of this is the typical globo gym, filled with blaring TV monitors and treadmills and other mechanical contraptions with gears, pulleys, and microchips. Those places cramp your mind and shut you down. The typical globo gym is 20 times bigger than TwinTown CrossFit, but as an exobrain the globo gym is the size of a walnut.

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