Finding the time to think
















Two days ago I was in London speaking at a conference on resilient water resources. My brief was to speak about how people in the water industry could think differently in order to become, you’ve guessed it, more resilient. I was given 15-minutes, which rather points towards an answer that says something about giving people more time.

A lack of time for thinking was something that came up again yesterday in Rome where I was attending a workshop on megatrends organised by the House of Ambrosetti, a firm of management consultants. What was rather lovely about this event was the pace. It started at a very reasonable 9.30 and went on to 4.30, but there was ample time for a proper sit down lunch.

This fitted rather well with a presentation given in the afternoon by Tal Ben-Shahar, a psychologist that teaches at the interdisciplinary Center at Herziliya (Israel) and was formerly at Harvard, who delved into the creative process and highlighted the much forgotten fact that the brain needs sufficient time for it to work effectively, especially when it comes to the generation of original thinking. Immersion in a subject is the first phase and this cannot be rushed. Equally, incubation, the second phase needs time too and especially a period of relaxation and there are no short cuts.

I especially liked the research study he quoted saying that if you have your email permanently open (or Facebook up) and are trying to do something else at the same time (like thinking, for instance) this is equivalent to the loss of ten IQ points, which is comparable to being awake for 36-hours straight. Smoking cannabis results in a loss of a mere 4 IQ points (yes, I too thought about the impact of being awake for 36-hours, being on Facebook and smoking cannabis all at the same time).

Takeaways? Find the time to think and make switching off (switching of digital devices but also switching off and slowing down yourself in the sense of rest and relaxation) a daily ritual rather than an annual resolution.


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2 Responses to Finding the time to think

  1. David Mendoza says:

    Hi Richard,

    Regarding water, do you have a reading list that you wouldn’t mind sharing? Water issues are begin to rise to the surface of public consciousness here in Texas due to drought and hydraulic fracking.

  2. richard says:

    Good question. A link to my virtual futures bookshelf is below but there’s nothing really on water. There’s a new book called The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman (great surname) that might be worth a look. Article from New York Times here.

    My bookshelf…

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