The Zen of Bits and Pieces

I use a little black paper notebook, 7½ x 12, exactly the size to fit in my upper shirt pocket. Whenever something crosses my mind, I write it down. Literally anything that may be of any future value. Each time I write something down, people give me this strange glance. Some ask why I don’t use a sophisticated digital system to „manage“ my thoughts. Well, truth is, I don’t really think that I can „manage“ my thoughts. They come up, whenever they want, and I have trouble enough just to „catch“ them. So my little notebook is not about managing, it’s about catching. No use managing ideas which are not there. 70% of the stuff I write down is useless at first glance. 20% go on a special list labeled „interesting“ (yes, that one is computer based). The rest is usually stuff that goes right on my action list. Now, let’s take a look at the 70% stuff. Since I can’t make any immediate use of it, I leave it right inside the notebook – no further processing at this time.

However, at some point in the future, I may have another, seemingly unrelated idea. Sometimes it rings a bell: “Wait a minute, didn’t I think about his before? OK, let’s go back and check the little black notebook”. More often than not, when I do this, additional information from other perspectives is revealed. Bits and pieces suddenly relate to each other to form a clear picture. Puzzle pieces fall into place and form the source of a new idea.

So what’s my point? The point is that our thoughts, ideas and creativity don’t visit us in linear fashion. They are not one steady stream. The opposite is true. They call on us in bits and pieces, seemingly unrelated, in different forms and dimensions. They seem unrelated at first glance. However, it pays off to give them a good second look. Creativity is lining up those bits and pieces, relating them to each other and giving them meaning. This is, in my opinion, a powerful source of human intelligence and creative ideas.


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