Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Do you want to take your life to the next level? If you do, then one of the most important things you can do is building the thinking habit.
Why is it important?
How can we build the thinking habit? Here are some tips.
1. Be Curious
Curiosity is powerful. It makes you eager to find new ideas. It also helps you recognize the ideas when they come. Curiosity is a foundational attitude to have in building the thinking habit.
2. Read Diversely
The quality of your output depends on the quality of your input. So, if you want to come up with good ideas, you need to feed your mind with good ideas.
One way to do that is to read diversely. Why? Because it allows you to cross-pollinate the ideas in your mind. This will give you fresh, new ideas.
Don’t just read from the fields you are familiar with; read from other fields as well.
3. Read Actively
Not only should you read diversely, but also you should read actively. Find relevant ideas and think about how you can apply them.
My favorite way to do this is by highlighting the book I read and reviewing them after I finish the book. I will then put the actionable ideas in my idea journal (see below). This helps me get the most out of the book.
4. Keep an Idea Journal
When you find a good idea, don’t just keep it in your mind. Instead, write it in an idea journal. Capture the idea. Otherwise, the idea might be gone forever.
Keeping an idea journal also makes you more alert to new ideas. You will quickly recognize them because you already have the habit of capturing ideas.
5. Review Your Ideas
Of course, it doesn’t do you much good if you just capture ideas without reviewing them. So take time to review your ideas every now and then.
In my case, I mark the ideas that I consider important and review them regularly. Besides refreshing my mind of the ideas, this often opens the way to new ideas.
6. Allocate Time to Think
You could take special time just to think. Bill Gates did this by having a Think Week twice a year while he was at Microsoft. This helped him navigate the company through the fast-changing technological landscape.
While you might not be able to afford a full week of thinking, you can do something similar with a shorter amount of time.
Ideas aren’t good if they are just ideas. You need to put them into action.
For this, you need to have the experiment mindset. Try things out without fearing failure. If an experiment works, you can then put more resources into it.
As the quote at the beginning says, not many people have the thinking habit. That’s why having the habit will make you stand out.