No skill is more valuable and harder to come by than the ability to critically think through problems that you haven’t encountered before. Good thinking makes the future easier, while poor thinking makes it harder. Good thinking means better decisions. Better decisions allow for more free time, less stress, and more opportunity. Poor thinking, on the other hand, leads to decisions that consume time, reduce options, and increase our stress.
High multitasking can be called "mental filing". Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.
“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”
The best way to improve the ability to think is to spend time for thinking. The problem is we want thinking to be easy and it’s often not. Easy thinking carries a high cost.
Easy thinking means taking a few minutes here and there, getting the gist of a problem, and making a decision. Hard thinking is understanding the problem, understanding the variables and the nuances, thinking through the second and third-order effects, and often understanding that a little pain now will make the future a lot easier.
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