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5 Reasons for Us to Stop Thinking

5 Reasons for Us to Stop Thinking

Everyone has an opinion in today’s tightly connected, always-moving, overloaded and uncertain world. How do people get their opinions? By thinking—at least a little bit. Walk up to just about anyone on the street, ask them about a recent public event, and they’re likely to have some thoughts already formed about the topic. We all develop opinions because we all have individual lives, and nearly everyone likes to shape their opinion to fit who they already are.

We also want to live a certain type of life, and our opinions blend into our future goals. In order to plan a goal, some thinking is required, because a fulfilling goal will not simply achieve itself. What I’m here to challenge, however, is the notion that thinking too much or too often can actually become a hindrance. As someone who loves thinking, this is strange for me to hear and stranger still for me to write, but it’s a concept we can all benefit from. Prioritizing implementation over thinking can yield incredible results.

1. Don’t think. Listen!

Listening is an incredibly underrated and rarely experienced state (or action) in today’s societies. People are working more hours now than throughout most of human history (primal humans engaged in recreational socialization for roughly six hours every day). Sadly, we’re seeing the effects of this. It’s commonplace now to see restaurants packed to the brim from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. without a single person engaged in peaceful reflection.

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The catch here is not to think too much about when, where or how to listen, but simply to listen. Think just long enough to find a time when you can listen intently, then listen. Pay attention to a river, creek or lakeside. Listen to birds chirping early in the morning. Listen to the far-off hum of cars late at night. Or, simply listen to silence. There’s so much peace and vitality to be gained in taking time to listen.

2. Don’t think. Feel.

When is the last time you thought about what you want to do with your life over the next 2-5 years? Was it during your first job? Back in college? Perhaps all the way back in high school? Whenever you did your most recent deep contemplations about life, you may not have gotten the results you wanted. You may have accepted a job that hasn’t truly fulfilled you, or perhaps you’re still on the path to the job you want.

Before you think too much about it, though, ask yourself this: “Am I really feeling out what I want to do?” This may sound like a foolish question on the surface, but in all reality, the best results in life come from emotionally convicted decisions. It takes guts to face your true feelings about your future and come out with a decision you’re set on. So, do yourself a favor and feel your way through life’s current questions.

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3. Don’t think. Observe.

Closely related to listening is observation. In fact, people who are skilled with one are typically skilled with both. They’re so closely tied to each other that you can most often do them simultaneously. They provide you with the power to see and gather things you couldn’t before.

A business owner can think he knows what his customers want, but he won’t really know until he takes enough time to watch and listen to them as they mill about a store, commenting on likes and dislikes. A dad who has been away serving the army can think he knows who his daughter has become, but he won’t really know until he’s back home, watching her interact with the whole family again. An individual can think they know what the solution is to a problem, but they won’t really know until they spend enough time in the according scenario to gather enough information.

Observation is one of the most powerful skills you can obtain, second only to listening. Rather than automatically assuming you know the answer to something, take two hours (or more, if you want) to observe the appropriate situation. This way, you’ll be far more familiar with the people involved and the best way to get a solution going.

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4. Don’t think. Rest.

Rest is a gift that most people desperately need and want. The ragged single mother, the overworked college student, the melancholy grandfather, the hyperactive businessman, the nightclub owner, the schedule-packed grade-schooler and everyone in-between. Everyone needs rest now and then; it’s literally impossible to lead a healthy life without it. The benefits of proper sleep and rest have been long touted, so anyone who avoids these recommendations does so at their own peril.

Before your next day, it’s all too tempting to think about what you need to accomplish and in what order. We can quite honestly think ourselves sick if we think too much about what needs to be done. As the great writer Sydney J. Harris once said, “The best time to rest is when you don’t have time for it”.

5. Don’t think. Believe.

Just like opinions, everyone has beliefs on various subjects. Some people have limiting beliefs, other people have empowering beliefs. Regardless of where you stand on a given spectrum, your beliefs shape the actions you’ll take.

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While this post is not predominantly about action or how to achieve something, it’s challenging to argue the premise that one’s preconceptions and inherent notions about life (and themselves) are directly related to their outcomes.

This is why shaping and then acting on the beliefs you already hold is so critical. A belief can only remain a belief if it is tested and holds true. For example, someone could believe the ocean is red, but when they see the ocean, their belief is most likely to be changed.

What does this have to do with the subheading, though? The key is to strengthen the beliefs you already have. In this case, thinking and believing aren’t necessarily worlds apart, but you have to know what you believe—and then believe with conviction—before you can act.

These are five ways you can harness the power of putting different mindsets into practice. This week, rather than thinking about something too much, use one of these prompts to change how you’d approach a situation, and watch how your results transform.

Featured photo credit: Ponder by AleXander Agopian via Flickr via flickr.com

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Brad Johnson

Top 5 Kindle Author | Author of 10 Books

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives.

Learn from these highly successful people’s personal development skills, turn these skills into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

2. Keep certain days clear

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

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7. Don’t try to do too much

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew.

Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else.

This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then.

Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

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Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

If you find yourself easily distracted and can’t focus, this method will help you overcome distractions.

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14. Never stop

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it.

Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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