I’m a good procrastinator. I’m not proud of it but on the eve of my 61st birthday I may have discovered an explanation as to why. It’s buried in the instruction manual of a piece of software designed to get jobs done by splitting them up into time slices. It’s called Vitamin-R and I’ve been putting it through its paces – or rather it’s put me through its paces. So this what I discovered. It’s all to do with that unrurly right brain, the creative bit that seems to spring to life just when you’ve stopped working but fails to kick in when you’re on the job.
R-Mode & L-Mode
We’ve all heard of the two sides of the brain: the “left” and the “right” hemispheres.
The “left” hemisphere has long been the star of the show. It houses language, numbers and logical thought and it proceeds in an linear sequence. The “right” hemisphere is a bit messier and gets a lot of bad press as a result. It processes information in a visual and intuitive manner and can come back with a deep insight immediately, never or any time in between.
Since the division into two “sides” isn’t really all that strong, the terms L-mode (linear) and R-mode (rich) are more often used today.
L-mode is great because it can be relied upon to mostly work properly and come back with results straight away. Once you’ve worked something out in L-mode, you know exactly how you came to your result. The R-mode on the other hand can be a bit of a prima donna. You ask it a question and if you are lucky, you get a deep insight straight away. Only you don’t know why so you need to get the L-mode working overtime just find out how to justify what you already know. If you are not so lucky, nothing at all happens. Often for a long time. You might wake up in the middle of the night with the right answer (that’s how the three dimensional structure of DNA was worked out), or you might get into the bath, have a brain spark and then run naked through the streets of Athens shouting “Eureka” (that’s how Archimedes worked out the previously intractable problem of how to calculate the volume of irregular objects). Then again your R-mode might never come back with anything useful at all.
In most situations both modes work together. Experts rely much more heavily on R-mode than beginners who focus almost exclusively on the L-mode. Learning typically involves a flow from L-mode to R-mode. Experts don’t work out problems more quickly by going through the same steps as beginners. They skip the steps by having better intuition about what needs to be done, then work backwards to find a logical justification for their snap judgement.
Are you impressed? You can download a free trial of the application from the publicspace.net website for a 14 day trial. If you like it part with a few pounds to stay on with your hourly dose of Vitamin-R
I also like the way it integrates with my ToDo app called Things – which is great for organising what has to be done, but has no plan for motivating me through the task towards ticking the completed box. Vitamin-R is the missing ingredient in my quest to get things done.