I read a post called The Death of Thought by Google Ventures partner M. G. Siegler this morning. Basically, M. G. talks about how access to the internet and all the services it provides (search, Twitter, Facebook, email, …) lets us fill in all of our spare time with the acquisition of new information. In doing so, we take away from the time that we used to spend thinking, or processing that information.
I agree with M. G.’s assessment and have three strategies to overcome the problem.
The first is writing this blog each morning. As M. G. points out in his post, writing forces you to reflect on existing information you’ve acquired and draw conclusions from it. It’s a great way to think.
“So, again, I go back to the process of writing. I believe one big reason I enjoy it so much is that it’s a forcing function to get me to think. I enjoy sitting here, coming up with thoughts seemingly out of thin air, and jotting them down. It’s the process of creation.”
The second is to close my laptop and turn off my smartphone’s ringtone and vibrate function whenever I need an uninterrupted period of time to think during the day. I don’t do this as frequently as I should but clearly see its value each time I do it. I need to do it more.
And the third is to disconnect at least an hour before I go to sleep each evening. I use this uninterrupted time to write about my key learnings from the day, read from a book (this is a great way for me to think as I read while letting my mind wander rather than with the goal of finishing the book), and talk with my wife about whatever happens to be on our minds that day. Each of these activities helps me bring scattered pieces of information together to make sense of it.