Thinking Time

I have been reading Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci. I am fascinated by Leonardo’s ideas and his notebooks where he posed questions, made observations, sketched inventions and drew. He didn’t have a high level of education and never grasped algebra. Yet, all this ruminating made him one of the geniuses of his generation.

No TV, internet or even radio existed in the 1400s. I was wondering about the multitude of inventions and big thoughts we aren’t having as a society because we are so focused on media.

We think other people’s thoughts. We like other people’s memes and sit to watch other people’s stories. We don’t have time for deep thinking because we are flooded with thoughts outside of ourselves. Scrolling has replaced deep thought.

This year I have added “thinking time” to my to do list. At least once a week I hang out with my brain without outside distractions – brainstorming ideas, coming up with solutions to problems, daydreaming and playing in my imagination.

I like to play with concepts in my head. Or delve further into something I have learned, allowing curiosity to lead. Many times writing ideas pop up or a different way to do things. Sometimes I write them down. More often I feed the idea until it’s ready. Eric Maisel calls this “holding” an idea.

Often I hear people discuss problems they are having, but they don’t go further to thinking about what might help. Letting your mind free to come up with bountiful solutions allows you to experiment. Leonardo loved to experiment. He would come up with ideas, play with them, observe effects and try something else if it didn’t work. Or to try something else for the experience of it.

Thinking is important to project planning as well. The first step for me in any project is thinking time instead of rushing in. I like to brainstorm, look at obstacles that might come up and how to deal with them. Or think of out of the box ideas to put in place.

To add in thinking time, I have cut down on TV and social media time. When my brain is overfull of other people’s ideas, it’s hard to create my own. Sometimes I turn off the car radio to think.

I noticed last year that media had creeped in more often. An audiobook to wash dishes by. A podcast to walk to. Instagram while I waited. Time that used to be spent daydreaming and thinking. Sometimes when motivation is low, these are great. But, if you can’t do anything without quiet space it may be time to evaluate.

Do you want to be the consumer? Or do you want to be the innovator, the artist, the philosopher? Where can you add thinking time to your life?

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