Most people say they have no time to think, but that can’t be right. Thinking is a hard-wired biological process that happens all the time. Like respiration, digestion or cell division (and unlike juggling, stamp collecting or double-entry bookkeeping), it goes on whether you ‘have time’ or not.

Fact is, your mind never stops, so time is not the problem. So what is?

Maybe it’s having too much to think about. What breakfast cereal is right for you? Who will win the big game? Will North Korea attack? Will the interest rate go up, down or stay exactly where it is? You’ll lose a lot of sleep over this stuff until you realise just how much of it is a) irrelevant, b) outside your control or c) both. Stop bothering your mind with gossip, sensationalism and speculation and you’ll be amazed how much thinking time you actually have.

Maybe it’s a speed problem: your mind is just too slow. Chances are you’re ‘channel surfing’, switching between the Whys and the Why Nots, flipping between the Whats and the Hows. It’s the fastest way to fry your brain without actually getting anywhere. This is the secret of every great thinking tool; they force you to think about one thing, in one way, one thought at a time.

Maybe there’s just not enough room in your head to lay out all the relevant pieces to see the whole puzzle. That’s why every great thinker has used some kind of ‘thought book’ or journal to push the thoughts out of their heads and onto paper, where they could be manipulated and rearranged until they made sense.

Decide what is (and is not) worth thinking about, making sure to filter out all the distractions and diversions. Try different thinking tools until you find one that really helps you focus your attention on the challenge at hand. And if you direct all that brain power into a journal you’ll not only get those thoughts out where you can see them, you’ll realise just how much thinking time you’ve had all along.

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Written by Jason Clarke

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Celebrated author, adventurer, gold medal Olympian and popular TV chef; Jason is none of these things. He is, however, one of the most sought-after creative minds in the country. As founder of Minds at Work, he’s helped people ‘think again’ since the end of the last century, working with clients across Australia in virtually every industry and government sector on issues ranging from creativity and trouble shooting to culture change and leadership.