On Thinking

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My Mom has always said I think too much. “Stop philosophizing.” or “You’re such a philosopher.” I’ve heard those statements hundreds of times in my 30 years.

It’s true. I think a lot. But it’s a positive thing as opposed to her negative view. I need answers. I need facts. I need proof.

I knew Santa wasn’t real when I was kindergarten age; essentially as soon as I could think for myself. Nobody could show him to me.

“Where’s Santa?”

“He comes when you’re sleeping.”

“No he doesn’t, I found the wrapped presents in your closet.”

Yeah, I was an asshole even as a little kid. I played along though. What the hell, free GI Joes are free GI Joes.

“Where do babies come from?”

“The stomach.”

That didn’t make any sense to me, but I didn’t push the issue. The uncomfortableness was palpable. I figured it out eventually. (Thanks 6th grade health day!)

Thinking is what gets me what I want.

If you aren’t getting what you want you’re probably not spending enough time thinking through your problems.

When people ask me what I do I’m going to start saying, “I think a lot.”

How Thomas Edison Taught Me To Think Better

A lot of the work I do is actually thinking. I learned how to think better about 10 years ago after reading about how Thomas Edison came up with ideas/inventions and solved problems. He would go into a dark room and half-sleep for hours. I don’t quite do it like that, but my process is similar. Quiet time. Cell phone off. Focus. I need a lot of distraction-free alone time.

You probably need it too.

How Distraction-Free Focused Thinking Helps You

  1. Thinking breeds ideas.
  2. Ideas breed action steps.
  3. Action steps breed actions.

Coffee shops, TV, the Internet – these destroy our thinking capabilities.

Most people can’t think well with distractions, but I’m willing to believe some people can. (Maybe, but not likely, you’re one of the few.)

If you’ve ever been to the Zappos.com headquarters outside of Las Vegas you know what I mean. That place is fucking insane. Which is cool in a way. It’s not what you’d think about a billion dollar company. But it’s a madhouse. It was stressful just walking through for an hour. If I worked there I’d be put in the loony bin within weeks. Or I’d shoot up the place. Note to Tony Hsieh: Never hire me. Just in case. ;)

But I digress.

Your Thinking Mission:

Having trouble with an idea? Trying to solve a problem? Not sure what your next step should be?

a) Turn everything off. Your cell phone. Your computer. Your TV.

b) Find a quiet, comfortable place. It should be so comfortable you might fall asleep. And it’s OK if you do fall asleep.

c) Think. Don’t worry if your mind wanders from the task at hand. Bring it back if you want or let it wander. This mind wandering is actually where magic can happen.

d) Do this every day for at least 1 minute. (More is better, but best to start slow.)

e) E-mail me in 30 days to tell me how this has affected your reality.

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@QuickGig and Putting Thinking To Use

Yesterday, in a short fit of thinking/inspiration I got this idea.

I needed a bit of web work done. I tweeted about the gig. $25 for ~2 hours of work.

An hour later I thought, “Hey! I’ll bet other people could use a service that connects web workers with entrepreneurs who need short term work.”

So I created @quickgig and QuickGig.org.

Follow that twitter account and I’ll be sending out short 1-8 hour jobs that pay at least $10/hour.

And if you’re looking to hire a short term web worker get in touch (karol at ridiculouslyextraordinary dot com) with your gig. If it’s up to snuff I’ll post it to the @quickgig twitter for free.

If you know somebody who’s looking for short term work I would, of course, appreciate you letting them know about this project.

Photo Credit

{ 8 comments }

Yamile Yemoonyah

I discovered the Thomas Edison way of thinking when I was a teenager.
Not that I knew he did it the same way but I would lie in bed for hours on time (yes, int the dark) and just think. For me this was a great way to stay sane in a crazy world. But my mom didn’t like it and tried to keep me busy. So I found a knew way to have my quiet/thinking time. I would light some candles and take extremely long baths. It was the perfect solution and I still do it from time to time :-)

Charlie

Dude, I love this post. And it reminds me of what we were talking over last night.

We see this a lot on the internet and in politics. People voting for politicians who say “hope will turn our country around” when hope has nothing to do with the matter. Internet marketers and politicians and such…they have this emphasis on soundbites and being quotable. In fact, I just saw a post on a fairly popular blog the other day on “how to become more quotable” and I just went, “Ick.” Because soundbites are cosmetics. Underneath, there has to be something of value, importance, need. And if one isn’t careful, they become a collection of quotes for 5 o’clock news, but with nothing underneath.

Regarding distractions, I’m all for doing what works. For some folks, going to work in a minimalist office is the key. For others, being surround by tons of shit that they have to ignore works. For me, when I’m writing, I love a coffee shop and I listen to loud music. Usually something hard and grating. After a while I don’t even hear the music anymore.

And nice work on QuickGig. That is awesome, man. And damn fast! Could have used that a few times over the past couple weeks.

David

Here is a quote from a Philosopher Grad Student from a free education site.
Defining Imagery: Experience or Representation?
Mental imagery is commonly defined as a form of experience: quasi-perceptual experience, experience that subjectively resembles the experience we have when we actually perceive something (see glossary). This implies that we are unlikely to be able to understand imaginal consciousness unless we understand perceptual consciousness (and perhaps vice-versa). Unfortunately, we do not yet have such an understanding (or, at least, one that is generally agreed upon). It also, however, implies that imagery is always and necessarily conscious: if something is not consciously experienced it cannot be mental imagery.
If, on the other hand, mental imagery is defined as being a form of mental representation, as some contemporary cognitive theorists suggest, the tight conceptual linkage between imagery and consciousness is broken, and it becomes conceivable that images (imaginal representations) might sometimes play a role in cognition without our being consciously aware of them. There is some evidence suggesting that this does indeed occur. For instance, experimental studies of verbal memory have found that nouns for which it is easy to think of a corresponding image (mostly words for concrete things, such as “dog,” “ship,” or “skyscraper”) are more readily remembered than nouns for which it is difficult to think of an image (mostly abstractions, such as “truth,” “nation,” or “size”). However, this mnemonic effect of “imagability” seems to occur quite regardless of whether any relevant images are actually consciously experienced (or, at least, of whether the subjects report or recall experiencing them). One interpretation of this finding is that image representations may be spontaneously evoked by the concrete words, and may play a role in making these words more memorable, even when they do not rise to consciousness.

Maria

Hey Karol!

I love that you are always coming up with something new! Quickgig sounds like a good idea + it can be BIG! :)

Excited to see how it goes!

Michael

Excellent post! I think we get too caught up in “multi-tasking” just for the sake of it and production, REAL quality productivity, suffers. I’ll need to think about your post some more, but I think it is quite a valuable perspective. Thank you!

DAVE

This is something I’ve done for a long time. I build stuff. I’ve got several trades but I now build stuff mostly for myself. At the moment it’s mainly things for my studio, (which I built). And there are always little problems to solve about unusual requirements that couldn’t be done otherwise without spending a lot of money. Just before sleep, usually at night I come up with answers to the problems & ways to build or improve something that didn’t spring to mind when I realised what I wanted to do, but later when I was dozing off.

Tom

Nice try, Karol – Santa is real. Damn anti-Santite!

(do like the thinking mission, though)

Jenn

The QuickGig idea is awesome. Almost awesome enough for me to finally learn how to use Twitter, but I’m holding out hope that I can avoid one more social medium that can suck up valuable thinking time. Good luck with it Karol – one day I’ll apply when I finally spend the time to learn how to reply to tweets!

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