The chess fans reading this will know that Deep Thought was a computer developed to play chess against the best (human) chess players in the world. The science fiction fans among us will know that Deep Thought was named after the computer with the same name from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which came up with the answer to life, the universe and everything. Two computers which were excellent at thinking deeply. If only I could do the same….
I sometimes struggle to find the time to think deeply about things. These ‘things’ could be spending time reflecting on my work, coming up with new and creative ideas and even focussing on my own development. And that is a problem.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. It has been claimed that our attention spans have been reduced through a diet of social media, on demand television and political discourse reduced to the length of a tweet. However, much of this research has now been questioned (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38896790). It’s not that our attention spans have been reduced, it’s just that there is so much information around, we have become better at filtering out the dross and focussing on what we find important and/or interesting https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/321266. After all, as the article states, we have no problem binge watching Netflix, but we might struggle to sit at our desks long enough to develop a business plan.
So, it seems that in order to focus on something, we have to make it interesting enough for us to devote ourselves to. And, we also need to give ourselves the time and space to do it, which of course can also be difficult.
A study at Stanford University found a link between walking and increased creativity (https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xlm-a0036577.pdf) and I would certainly agree that going for a walk clears the head and gives me the time and space to think (as long as I don’t have to keep an eye on what my dog is doing!). I also find going for a swim is a great opportunity to wrestle with ideas and solve problems.
Using a daily journal to plan out my day helps keep me focussed and ensure that I find the time to everything that I need and want to do. As long as I don’t give myself a huge ‘to do’ list as experience has shown me that that is counter productive.
I’m interested though in what other people do. What are your strategies for giving yourself time to think?