1-Sentence-Summary: How to Think More Effectively delves into the subject of thinking mechanisms and cognitive processes, and explores how you can think more efficiently and draw better insights from the world around you by adopting a few key practices, such as filtering your thoughts or prioritizing work.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Thinking is our primary source of information, so why not dedicate more time to learn about this bodily process, or even better, how to improve it? How to Think More Effectively can help you get started with developing your thinking mechanisms and getting more out of your time by improving the way you manage it.
It all starts with prioritizing and more specifically, with setting goals. Sure, this may sound like a cliche, or something practiced by young, aspiring people, but definitely not something you’d do, right? Well, you should think this through. Studies prove that 80% of the wealthy focus on their goals, while only 12% of the poor in that sample do so. Convinced yet?
Goal setting can help you in numerous ways. For example, you’ll be able to prioritize better, and take responsibility for your actions. Once you’ve clearly defined what you have to do and how you want to achieve it, there’s only one person to blame if you don’t do the work. Make up a plan and follow it through.
Don’t know how? Keep on reading to find out three of my favorite lessons from the book that helped me become more efficient:
- Be aware of your goals, plans, and life strategies by planning them with care.
- Envy can be useful if you know how to analyze it, while death can remind us of what’s important.
- Skepticism can be good when you use it to be objective in your thoughts.
Care to analyze these lessons with a more observing eye? Stay with me as I’ll explain each one in detail!
Lesson 1: Be actively engaged in deciding what it is that you want out of your life and how to achieve it
It’s no secret that a person who organizes their schedule and has a little bit of structure in their life will be more productive than someone who sits around all day and procrastinates after accomplishing the bare minimum. However, the way we organize our life has a significant impact on results. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to learn how to do it properly.
Start by including your goals in your daily, monthly, and yearly plans. If you haven’t set your goals yet, maybe it’s time to pay some attention to this aspect. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to accomplish in life? Once you have that sorted out, make a plan. The first step is to figure out how much time you’ll need to accomplish them.
Make sure to include your time for thinking and strategizing, which should occupy around 15-20% percent of your time. Yes, it truly takes that much to come up with a good plan. Then, step out of your comfort area. Ask yourself why you’re doing the things that you’re engaged in and if they’re helping you reach your end goal or just consuming your precious time.
These questions may bring some discomfort, as you’ll figure out that you have to replace some activities from your routine that doesn’t serve a real purpose for your future. However, becoming more reflexive, structured, and analytical with your actions will pay off in the long run, especially as you get closer to achieving what you want. Be consistent and analyze your actions to improve your life.
Lesson 2: Use envy and the thought of death to unleash significant insights about your desires
Acknowledging our feelings and being open about them is a strong sign of emotional intelligence. For this reason, whenever we feel something, be it a positive or negative emotion, it’s best to let it all out instead of suppressing it. The same goes with envy ― the negative emotion responsible for many of our actions.
Still, acknowledging and acting on it are two different things. You may think that good people don’t feel jealous of others. Well, that’s wrong! Humans are imperfect, so being envious is only natural. So, how can we turn this negative emotion into something positive for us? By analyzing it. When you have this feeling, it suggests that you are looking for something that you’re currently lacking in your life.
By carefully looking at your reason for envy and carrying out an introspection, you can identify what it is that you’re looking to achieve or accomplish. Learn from envy, instead of inhibiting it, if you want to declutter your thoughts and ease your soul. When you look at each negative emotion from this point of view, you’ll think more effectively!
Take death for example. You can look at it from different perspectives. While this morbid thought can bring us negative emotions, it can also remind us of what’s important. Use this feeling to open up your mind to new opportunities and let go of insignificant issues in your life. At the end of the day, all that matters is to live well, meaningfully, know what your goals are, and work hard to achieve them.
Lesson 3: Be analytical of your thoughts and admit that you can’t always be right
Sometimes it may be hard to acknowledge that our point of view is wrong. Personally, I find it very difficult to accept when someone else is right. However, as the book suggests, this can be counterproductive for our thinking mechanism, as it inhibits our analytical thinking, and the ability to switch perspectives.
Therefore, becoming skeptical of our thoughts and ideas can prove to be a wise approach. Now, I don’t mean losing your personality, doubting every decision, and accepting everyone’s opinions instead. Contrary to that, your aim should be to strengthen your cognitive processes by giving your brain a little bit more material to work with.
As such, start by acknowledging that your thinking is faulty, as it should be. You’re human, so you’re imperfect. Therefore, errors and biases may be part of the way you’re seeing things, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t diminish them as much as possible. While being aware of your mind’s distortions, also weigh the information you receive and be objective by considering multiple perspectives.
Take your time to filter the emotional factor out and focus on the voice of your rationale. Finally, when you accept a point of view, be concise and firm about it, but keep a little skepticism at the back of your head. Simply put, always consider that everything you hear from others or think for yourself can be wrong, or at least partially wrong.
The How to Think More Effectively Review
If you want to improve your thinking and be more analytical of yourself, instead of making rushed decisions, How to Think More Effectively is the book for you. The author gives practical advice on how to use your negative feelings for a positive return, how to set goals, and structure your life starting with your thoughts. Rather than turning their book into an emotional, catchy, and motivational speech, The School of Life likes to play on the rational side of things and deliver practical advice.
Who would I recommend the How to Think More Effectively summary to?
The 23-year-old psychology student who is passionate about cognitive processes, the 30-year-old who feels stuck in the mundane and wants to learn how to make better decisions in life, or the 49-year-old manager who wants to be on top of their thinking game and be able to give useful advice on this topic to their team.