The importance of taking time to think

‘Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.’  Thomas S. Szasz

Creating legacy and taking time to think

To create legacy, you need to frequently set time aside for thinking. Just thinking. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything. But in fact, it can save you a lot of unnecessary ‘doing’.

Take advantage of unwanted ‘off’ time

I admit I find it really difficult to take time off from working on my legacy projects, aside from the ocasional Saturday spent painting or watching TV.

In a way, this is good – it shows I enjoy my work so much I don’t really see it as work at all, more like productive playtime. But the body and the mind do need rest, even from activities that are enjoyable. Scheduling and enjoying time off is something I have to work on.

But a few days ago, I was forced to take a few days off by a lingering cold that came back with a vengeance. The come-back was awful – so much worse than the initial cold. For two days, I felt trapped in my own body – not being able to do anything, not even reading or scribbling on my notepad.

The only thing I could do was lie on the bed and think. I was getting really worried about getting really behind on my work, but it turns out that these two days of forced exclusive ‘thinking time’ are now saving me a lot of unnecessary work.

For example, one of the things I realised was that actually I didn’t feel at all comfortable participating in a group project I had recently taken on. If it wasn’t for the forced thinking time, I would have ignored my niggling doubts about the project and continued investing time into something I didn’t really want to do. But the two days thinking time allowed me to fully acknowledge my doubts and to therefore abandon the project at an early stage, before having invested lots of time into it.

Time to think is time well-spent

I’m sure you’ve got your own examples of instances when time spent thinking actually saved you a lot of time in the long run. So don’t feel guilty about taking time out to think.

It’s also important you’re not too stingy with how much time you allocate to thinking. For example, I would have never spent two entire days just thinking, under normal circumstances. But it turns out I needed two whole days to get to the bottom of how I really felt about the group project; and those two days have saved me about two weeks of solid work, just on that one project.

I’m as guilty as anyone for only allocating small chunks of time during the day to thinking – rarely one whole day, or even two. But we’ve all got to start changing that if we want to improve our decision-making process in relation to the legacy projects we take on.

I guess a long-term goal such as creating legacy requires long-term thinking. And cutting your thinking time short is therefore false economy. Let’s be generous, and spend out on thinking time; I’m sure our legacy endeavours will greatly benefit.

What’s your take?

Do you set aside time exclusively dedicated to thinking? How do you protect your thinking time from being allocated to other activities that seem more urgent? I’d love to read about your suggestions in the comments section.

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at www.alexaispas.com