The Psychology of Tools in Getting Stuff Done

do more (tasks) with less (time, effort, resources)

The brain heavily relies on the environment, to function as an external memory, a trigger for actions, and a source of affordances, disturbances and feedback. We hardly pay attention to this as we get on with everyday work. Some of those tools like a toothbrush we couldn’t live without. It is such a great extension of out function.

We rarely pay attention to tools to extend our mind. No not chip implants. Rather tools that will help our minds to retain ideas and thoughts that we can later tie actionable triggers to. The principles behind this limb extension are implemented in GSDfaster app; with its focus on organizing tasks into “actionable” external memories, and on opportunistic, situation-dependent execution.

The goal is for a behavior influence: to do more (tasks) with less (time, effort, resources).

Brain sees tools as limb extension

There is a great article which explains this concept in detail on New Scientist here:

WHEN you brush your teeth, the toothbrush may actually become part of your arm – at least as far as your brain is concerned. That’s the conclusion of a study showing perceptions of arm length change after people use a mechanical tool.

The brain maintains a physical map of the body, with different areas in charge of different body parts. Researchers have suggested that when we use tools, our brains incorporate them into this map.

To test the idea, Alessandro Farnè of the Université Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, and colleagues asked 14 volunteers to use a mechanical grabber to pick up distant objects. Shortly afterwards, the volunteers perceived touches on their elbow and fingertip as further apart than they really were, and took longer to point to or grasp objects with their hand than before they used the tool.

The team say that their brains may have adjusted the areas that normally control the arm to account for the tool and not yet adjusted back to normal (Current Biology, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.05.009). “This is the first evidence that tool use alters the body schema,” says Farnè.