I have long believed that your mind is your most powerful weapon; and that almost any problem, if thought about enough for long enough, can be solved. Thus, your mind is your go-to resource, friend, mentor, spirit guide, therapist and consigliere, if used properly.
In this post I won't discuss how to fully optimise this - that's what this entire blog is about really - but rather one important point. This is to take time to think about things.
Now this may seem very obvious - of course, one must think about things, how else would you figure anything out; and of course, we are "thinking about things" all the time. We also breathe and eat, where are those blog posts?
But the point here - like many other posts in this blog - is about low hanging fruit left on the tree. Think about the many times per day or week that something pops into your head - now this may be an important or interesting question; it may be an insight into something that's been on your mind. Now, imagine this happens whilst you are on the treadmill, and the pain of running prevents a long train of thought. Or that you are in a meeting and your mind immediately moves back to focus on the meeting. Or that the trigger for the thought was a podcast you are listening to, or a book you are reading. You immediately shut down that thought process and continue listening. There are many times when a valuable train of thought begins, but is "stillborn", due to external circumstances. A variant of this is also when something is troubling you - you observe that your boss has a hard time listening to feedback, for example - and you simply file this away, as something that is basically now an observation.
In all of these cases, you are missing an opportunity to gain valuable insight or knowledge, for want of a pause to think. There are many ways to handle this; here are two:
First, stop to think. What this means is, in such moments, wherever possible, go with that train of thought. So, for example, if in the midst of writing this blog entry, something important pops into my mind, I will pause writing and think this through, until I am satisfied I have reached the conclusion. Why? Because you want to take advantage of that fertile moment, when your creativity and imagination are switched on, and your mind is "in the zone". If you don't, and try to go back to this thought when you're on your coffee break, you may well find that your inspiration has gone, and you are unable to reignite the train of thought, and the moment is lost. Taking advantage of moments when your mind is "fertile" is very powerful, and if you are able to pause and "harvest" that thought process there and then, it is valuable.
Second, you can set aside time for thinking. In my case, this means having a "thinking" list. When something comes up that I want to think about; but that, for one reason or another, I can't do immediately; I pop it on the list. I add in as much colour, description and triggers as I can (so maybe one/two sentences), rather than a one word reference - this is to help me re-ignite my brain and recreate the thought process (avoiding the issue referenced above). I then have a set time in the week where I think about one of these topics, ticking it off the list.
What you will find is that, by doing things like this, you end up considering deeply many more important/relevant things than you otherwise would have. this means that you will end up having many important insights that you would have simply missed previously. One way to describe this is that a wise old counselor has just entered your life, and is peppering you with ideas and insights. Except that wise old counselor is your mind. Give him a platform and he will make you better.