How to Think More Effectively | The School of Life

Summary of: How to Think More Effectively: A guide to greater productivity, insight and creativity (Work series)
By: The School of Life

Introduction

Unlock the full potential of your thinking abilities with the guidance of The School of Life’s ‘How to Think More Effectively: A guide to greater productivity, insight and creativity (Work series)’. This book summary will furnish you with intriguing insights and techniques to improve your thinking process. Discover the benefits of strategizing and evaluating your goals, understanding that ideas develop in fits and starts, harnessing the power of distraction, and using envy to identify your true desires. Embrace the paradoxical effects of pondering death and learn to adopt a healthy dose of skepticism about your own beliefs.

Rethinking Priorities

Evaluate your values and goals to live a more fulfilling life.

Many of us believe we prioritize well by attending to important matters first, but do we really? This book challenges readers to re-examine their priorities through self-reflection. Instead of jumping straight into pursuing our goals, we should take time to analyze the value and purpose behind them.

By investing more time in reflection and strategizing, we can improve the quality of our decision-making. The author suggests setting aside at least 15-20% of our time to evaluate our goals.

The idea of questioning our values and purpose can be intimidating, but the author encourages readers to practice and push through the discomfort. By asking ourselves probing questions such as “why,” “to what end,” and “of what importance,” we can develop a more effective and fulfilling way of thinking.

A life spent chasing accolades, money, and shallow relationships is no match for a life built on well-examined values and goals. With time and dedication, we can shift from impulsive action to a more evaluative disposition, leading to a richer and more fulfilling life.

Embracing the Fits and Starts of Creativity

The creative process is not always effortless, as ideas develop in fits and starts. French writer Marcel Proust’s manuscripts were full of revisions and remarks, but this was essential to his creative method. Accepting our natural limitations and working with them is key to successful creativity. By keeping a notebook and recording our ideas, we give transient thoughts a chance to develop and come to fruition.

Catching Insights with Distractions

Elusive ideas are like rare butterflies that can be caught with distractions. The mind is more receptive to novel ideas when half-occupied. Taking a break and letting the mind wander can lead to unexpected insights and new perspectives.

Have you ever had a great idea, only to have it slip away before you could capture it? This happens to many of us, and it turns out that elusive thoughts are like rare butterflies that can be caught with distractions. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it’s possible to catch these valuable thoughts by taking a break and letting your mind wander.

Various forms of low-level distraction, such as shampooing your hair or gazing out the window of a train, can help you capture those flighty thoughts. The reason for this is that a partly distracted mind is more open to new ideas than a fully alert one. When you’re not entirely focused, novel ideas are more likely to take root.

It might seem like we do our best thinking when we’re fully engaged, but this isn’t always the case. Novel insights can strike when we’re doing mindless tasks like taking a shower or driving on autopilot mode. These distractions give our minds the space they need to explore unexpected ideas, even if they’re unsettling or disruptive.

Elusive insights are often challenging to capture, but they can be caught by letting our minds wander and embracing distractions. Even the most exotic thoughts can find a place to land when we’re just a little bit distracted. Taking a break and looking at things from a new perspective is a valuable tool for catching those insightful ideas and making them stick in our minds.

Unlocking the Value of Envy

Envy is a natural emotion that is often seen as negative. However, the author proposes that envy can actually be a helpful tool in identifying your true desires. By examining and understanding your envious feelings, you can gain insight into what you truly want from life. Envy acts as a puzzle piece that helps to shape the details of your ideal life. It’s crucial to be precise in analyzing these feelings to avoid clouding your judgment. Envy can be a valuable teacher if you allow it to be.

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