How does it feel when I think?

This post is out of order, as I prioritized writing the Wednesday “nugget” post ahead of catching up on Tuesday’s assignment.

Unfortunately, I usually feel frustrated when I think. There are a variety of reasons for this, not all of which are present at any particular time.

I read and think MUCH faster than I can speak, type, or listen. So typically, I am frustrated that I’m thinking a bunch of good stuff, which I can’t capture or record fast enough. Also, I’m typically in a location or situation where I can’t record my current thoughts, so I’m frustrated that I’ll have to take time later on to capture these ideas, and will invariably lose many of them. Or, I’ll recall that I’ve thought these same thoughts before, and STILL haven’t been able to record them effectively.

Another frustration is that I often think of several aspects (thought vectors?) at almost the same time, but they go in significantly different directions and I can’t follow them all at once. I have to pick one and write (or think) linearly about it, then go back to pick up the next one to document, then go back for the next one, and in the meantime I’ve thought of multiple branches off each of the intermediate thoughts along each path…

Sometimes, especially when I’m writing (code or documentation), I can get into a mental flow state, and my sense of time (and frustration!) disappears temporarily. (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written and talked on flow, for anyone interested in learning more about this…) But when I come out of flow, I’m again frustrated, either because it took so long and I’m still not done, or because there are so many more aspects and threads remaining to capture, or because there’s something else I have to do before I can continue.

Finally, I’m sometimes frustrated because I have the feeling that my thinking is incomplete, or otherwise inaccurate or missing something critical. Sometimes external input is required, but I find it difficult to get because often people (including me!!) will take the ideas off in other directions before we’ve fully explored and fleshed out the entirety of what I was trying to capture and describe.

For follow-up:

  • Itemize some methods and techniques useful to rapidly capture multiple thoughts, such as outlines (traditional and bubble/mind-map), dictation, stenography?, lists, and possible use of visual representations. Also, memory techniques such as mnemonics and visualization.

One thought on “How does it feel when I think?”

  1. First, I’m a huge fan of Csikszentmihalyi. Flow was the stand out book for me in grad school. I find as I get older, it seems to get harder to get to the state of flow as I have so many thoughts and activities swirling around me. I’ll start reading an article only to think about an email I should have answered or what I might want for lunch.

    Your final comment about trying to get input from others particularly resonated. Because we are all coming into a conversation from different experiences and concerns, we connect with different pieces of the ideas and then take them in our own direction so rather than helping an individual find his place, we make the journey even more complicated and complex. It is why organizations struggle to first define and then implement a shared mission and vision.

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