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10 Ways You Can Find More Time To Think

10 Ways You Can Find More Time To Think
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People are juggling a lot these days: work, school, spouses, kids, chores, socializing and more. With all of these commitments, it can seem impossible to find the time to just sit down and think. However, time to think is important for maintaining optimal mental health. It also allows you figure out any problems in your life and do some soul-searching, if necessary. If you’re finding yourself short on time, try these 10 ways to fit thinking into your life:

1. Make the decision to make time.

If you’re going to make time to do more thinking, you need to commit to that decision. That means actively making time to do it. If you just say that you’ll make time, it’s likely that it won’t happen. Step up and make the decision that this is something that you want to do.

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2. Schedule it in.

Step two is scheduling that time. Try finding gaps in your calendar that are pretty consistent from week to week. That way, you’ll be able to schedule it in regular increments of time.

3. Write it down.

It might sound silly, but if there’s a problem that you want to think about for a while, write down what that problem is. Once you get to the point where you can sit down and think about it, remind yourself of what that issue is. This will keep the problem fresh in your mind, which will enable you to have a more informed thought process about it.

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4. Seek silence.

Even the most focused of people cannot think well around noise. It’s distracting and eats into thinking time. Try to find a time and place that is quiet and peaceful. Think of this as a time to meditate on whatever you want. This allows you to really focus all of your energy on the task at hand.

5. Be comfortable, mentally.

Many people are uncomfortable with too much time to think because they are afraid of facing their own thoughts. Don’t shy away from thinking. It’s important to be able to open up to yourself and think through things. This time is a gift, not a burden. Use it as a way to relax.

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6. Be comfortable, physically.

Laying down, sitting on a pillow, reclining on the lawn — find a space where you feel physically comfortable. This will enable you to have a pleasant experience and really get to thinking. Try to find someplace that will be comfortable for a long period of time to avoid distraction.

7. Talk to yourself.

Thinking out loud is very helpful to some people. Even if the only person listening is you, it can be great to hear ideas. It makes your thought process more concrete, and will help you reach a solution or answer more quickly than if you keep everything in your head.

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8. Take a break.

Midday breaks — such as lunchtime — are great times to think. Rather than working through lunch, take the time to gather your thoughts. Breakfast time provides another opportunity; in the morning, you can reflect about the tasks ahead and organize your day.

9. Exercise.

I find that workouts give me a great opportunity to think. This is especially true if you’re doing repetitive cardio, such as running. This involves little thought, which will give you more time to think about whatever is on your mind. The bonus is that thinking will take your mind off of the workout, which can make the activity seem easier.

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10. Go on a drive.

Aimlessly driving around your neighborhood can be a great time to think. The car is quiet, and it’s a safe place to air your thoughts. Just make sure you’re not too distracted by your ideas, and pay attention to the road!

Featured photo credit: Kate Ter Haar via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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