As a kid, we are taught many skills and trained to write, read, play and many more. However, the one crucial skill that is the key to life, typically ignored is thinking. The capacity of individuals to critically analyse situations is an important and difficult skill to acquire. It is taught neither in school nor at home.
The best way to use the mind is when it is engaged in thought. You’ll have plenty of free time if everything is run properly. When used improperly, much of your time will be spent fixing errors.
While good decisions create time for you, provide a stress-free life and are very rewarding, on the other hand, bad ones consume your time, drain your energy and make you anxious.
How to learn to think?
For this answer, it is necessary to revisit the lecture given by William Deresiewicz. The entire essay is worth reading (and re-reading). You must also read Feynman’s technique to effective learning.
A team of researchers at Stanford conducted a study to understand how college students multitask so efficiently than adults The answer completely shocked them.
It is necessary to understand that the study was different in the way it was conducted. It did not test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. Instead, the group was divided into high and low multitaskers, and different tests were conducted on both target groups.
The researchers found that both the groups were bad at multitasking and could not distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. They were bad at ‘mental filling’ which means keeping the information in the right conceptual box and retrieving it when necessary. their minds were more disorganised and they found it very difficult to switch tasks.
The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.
Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Multitasking just does not make you stop thinking, it impairs your whining ability. Today, we cannot sit silently and think, without being disturbed by constant interruptions from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or in some cases your outlook emails.
Smart people have always believed that their first thought is never the best and not their own. It is always influenced by what they read, listen to or the people they meet. Only after diving deep into the reservoir do they patiently come to the original idea. Even after the idea is there, one needs to time to correct the errors, and outlast their impulses.
In today’s world, people who are fast workers are much appreciated, but what they forget is a fast worker is not using time t think before delivering the work. Any writer, painter or entrepreneur you meet will never complete their work in a day. They require time to first conceptualise the idea, make amendments and then after careful study for a long time, come up with a masterpiece. in the creative field
James Joyce wrote Ulysses, the greatest novel of the 20th century, at the rate of about a hundred words a day—half the length of the selection I read you earlier from Heart of Darkness—for seven years. T. S. Eliot, one of the greatest poets our country has ever produced, wrote about 150 pages of poetry over the course of his entire 25-year career. That’s half a page a month. So it is with any other form of thought. You do your best thinking by slowing down and concentrating.
How to improve your thinking?
Practice makes one perfect. Similar is the case with thinking. If you want to improve, spend more time thinking. Just spending some time here and there to understand the gist will not help you make the right decisions.
You must let your decisions do the talking for your thinking.
Your decision-making ability is very much proportional to how much time you have in hand. While you very often hear people saying ‘ I am too busy as a compliment to themselves, always be assured, that these are the ones that make the worst choices. Time is wasted on a bad decision by busy people, as they stay too busy making up for all the bad decisions in the past, and thus lack the time to make wise ones.
Making wise selections now will ease future challenges and give you more time and less worry. Also, read the journey of Joshua Foer in Moonwalking with Einstein: Training your memory for excellence.
Schedule time to reflect and improve your comprehension of the issue if you wish to think more clearly.
It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise”William Deresiewicz