By Nilooka Dissanayake
When I was a teenager, I did all my thinking in buses; mostly school buses. Almost two hours each day. What a luxury it seems now.
I feel that lack of thinking time very badly now; and I am not alone. Athula Jayasekera, Chairman of the Management Club-Galle Face Hotel, feels that lack of thinking time is a major stumbling block for most professionals.
Nimal Sedara of Eagle Insurance agrees. In an article in Athwela Business Journal, says he to entrepreneurs and business operators: “Your business will not progress because you merely go to work or go on doing business. If you want to attain success, take time to think.”
“If you do not create enough time for thinking, you will not have clarity and you will lose your focus” says the Canadian Women’s Business Network. “If you do not create time for high-priority tasks, you will find yourself up against tight deadlines, or missing the mark completely on those activities without deadlines.”
Niranjan Meegammana, of kaputa.com says in an interview in Small Business International: “When you want to do something new every day, you have to invest sufficient time in thinking; in going in search of new ideas. That, I call investment. No person can climb up unless he apportions some time to look at his future.”
“For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” it is recorded in the Proverbs. “What is life but what a man is thinking of all day?” asks Ralph Waldo Emerson.
One would think, thinking is easy. But, “most people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so,” laments the English philosopher, Bertrand Russell.
In our bias for action, have we lost our minds? Can we regain it by finding time to think?
The question is: How?
NLP trainers recommend that you to make time early in the day and just before you go to sleep.
Some types of meditation may also help. “One insight gleaned during a few minutes of meditation might save hours, perhaps days of unnecessary work.” Peter McWilliams says in Aspirenow.com. “From a purely practical point of view, meditation can make more time than it takes.” He believes that meditation helps us reach into the subconscious.
There are other techniques such as brainstorming which allow us to reach our subconscious minds.
We are better able to tap into the unconscious when we relax. ManagementResources.org recommends that rather than setting out to think, you should set out to relax. It recommends taking walks, exercise or just a relaxing bath. “If you can’t relax because you’re still worrying about work, or your personal life, just think through what you need to think through as if it is someone else’s problem.”
They recommend use of travel time and those little intervals in the day when you’re not doing anything in particular (waiting for the kettle to boil, in the toilet, walking upstairs to a meeting) as opportunities to think. I do this quite a lot. To me, often thinking means writing. I keep a little notebook in my bag and whenever I am between meetings, or waiting for someone in their waiting room, I take notes.
Looking critically about the key time wasters in your work and personal life—like phone calls, email, television, arguments or gossip—may also help you conserve precious minutes for thinking time.
Thinking is a hot topic on the Internet. A search on Google recently came up with 16,200,000 web results for ‘thinking.’ Try these for more ideas.
As you can see, there are many ways to make time. I learnt this early in life from the late Dr. Ranjan Abeysinghe, my dentist then, who was also an accomplished musician. “Everyone has 24 hours in a day” he admonished me when I complained about inability to attend a musical performance. “You have to make time for things that are important to you.”
Do you feel thinking is important? If you do, why not make time for it? You know the saying about taking a horse to water. We can lead you there. But, you are the only one who can make you think.
Originally published in the Sunday Times in June 2003.