Alarm.  iPhone.  Get ready.  iPhone.  Commute.  iPhone.  Email.  Meetings.  Lunch.  iPhone. Clients.  More meetings.  iPhone.  Drinks.  Commute.  Gym.  TV.  Internet.  Sleep.

Do it again.

You live a full life.  It’s no doubt easier than life was for your forebears a few generations ago, but it’s also faster-paced, more varied, and filled with countless more distractions.

And yet, as it was for your forebears, and always has been for humans, every action you take requires a preceding process of thought.  Whether choosing your dinner, buying a house, or deciding your life’s goals, you need to think it through.  The only difference is one of degree, which means the time it takes; or should take.  A little for dinner, more for the housing choice, and lots for those big goals.

So where does “thinking time” fit in to your schedule?

When was the last time you devoted an uninterrupted and significant period of time – with zero distractions; no TV, no web, no music, no anything – to thinking?

Probably been a while, right?  Most of us snatch some “time to think” while doing other things.  Driving.  On the train.  In the boring meetings (if we’re not texting or playing Angry Birds).

Quite apart from the fact that effective thinking requires a specific process and plenty of practice, even the best thinker would gain little without devoting the time.

If dedicated thinking time is not part of your regular schedule, may I suggest working it in?  If you think you don’t have time, here’s a few tips:

The shower.  By now you can wash on auto-pilot.  Pick a topic and think it through while you do your body-maintenance.

Running, especially if you do it on a treadmill.  Ditch the iPod and do some targeted thinking instead.

Best of all, set aside 20 minutes of me-time during that part of the day when you’re at your most alert.  Be alone, get comfortable, pick a topic, and start asking yourself questions (which is what thinking boils down to).  Doing it on paper can bring even better results, because it slows you down, makes you think about the questions you ask and about the answers you give yourself.

Practice targeted thinking, and you’ll be amazed at how much you didn’t know you knew.

Practice it often, and do it well, and you’ll be in a tiny minority.  As that old saying goes: 1% of people make things happen, 5% of people write about what happened, and the rest wonder what the heck is happening.  The 1% are the ones doing the thinking.


Think better with Tap Your Own Brilliance.

For more on thinking, see the Resources page.