Quiet times and thinking things

My thinking beach
My thinking beach

I follow the blog of marketing coach Jim Connolly and find that his posts generally ring very true for me. A very recent post ‘I’m off on a thinking trip – A “thinking trip”?’ about a trip he was making so that he could refresh his ideas got me thinking – funnily enough.

Although I have never conciously gone on a ‘thinking trip’ I do have ways I use in order to get the quiet time I need for thinking and working out new ideas.

When I was younger I was lucky enough to have a pony of my very own ( I was 16 and paid for her myself but thats another story), the hacks we went on through the countryside became my quiet thinking time though it wasn’t until after I lost her a couple of years later that I realised this. Boy did I miss those times once I realised how much I had been using them to think things through, not just art based stuff but things in my life.

Ever since then I have been working to get those times back and over the years I think I have found a few ways.

  • Dog walking has sort of replaced the horse riding, it is something I do every day either on the beach or to and from work (depending on the weather and what I’ve got on that day). Its usually at least 20 minutes and its often enough time to digest information I have been given, think things through or work on the spark of an idea. Also just looking at the way things change or collecting things on the beach can spark ideas.
  • Monotonous tasks help with occupying one side of the brain so the other can think. Many moons ago when I was at university I worked in the holidays at a little company who cast model soldiers in white metal (mainly Britains figures). My job was to clean the castings of the excess pieces of metal that came from the two part moulds and the sprues. Once you knew what to look for on each figure the work became a little monotonous. For a lot of people it would, to coin a phrase, ‘do their head in’. I, however, discovered that it released a part of my mind and allowed me perfect thinking time. Part of my brain was occupied and the other part could think freely. I have found other tasks that allow my brain to do the same thing, mainly hand planing and sanding, I just have to watch that I don’t ‘zone out’ when I’m working on machines!
  • The time just before you nod off to sleep. Last thing at night just before I go to sleep can be very good ideas time as my brain seems to connect things that just don’t really go together and come up with something new. The drawback with this one can be the fact that I’m often too tired to write it down, or I fall asleep before I can write it down and I have to hope that I can remember it in the morning!
  • Visits to family can prove very good thinking time as I tend to relax a lot (they all encourage me to sleep) and relaxing definetly helps the brain to start running through things. I guess this is the closest I get to a ‘thinking trip’ as I’m in a different environment and doing different things than I usually do every day.

I’m sure I have other times that I use for thinking, mostly when part of my brain is completely occupied, I just can’t think of them right now.

Its nearly time for bed and I have some ideas to be getting on with!

What things do you do when you need to think?

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