When a person faces angry feedback from their direct manager or tries to avoid a speeding taxi coming from the other direction, they think fast and react automatically in order to survive. On the other hand, when we try to solve an algebra problem, our mind automatically slows down and makes us deliberately fiddle with a paper and pencil. These are two contrasting processes which experts have termed as fast and slow thinking.
Understanding both methods and taking an apt approach could assist us in finding rational solutions for many complex everyday situations, both in office and at home. Many times a clash takes place in our mind under which we often miscalculate absolute values. Experts believe that we are good at understanding deceleration, acceleration and rate of change, but very bad at understanding its net value.
There are situations in life where fast thinking perfectly fits in. Short and rapid thinking bouts can definitely direct towards the desired solution and re-energize oneself. However, not all situations demand rapid and short thinking bouts. Life is a marathon, and it becomes challenging to maintain the desired level of concentration or pace with fast thinking. Both processes are unique and carry its unique advantages. Also, an apt approach differs from one situation to another.
Fast Thinking Is for Brainstorming
Fast thinking operates in a quick and automatic manner and does not include voluntary control. Moreover, it involves negligible or little effort. Speed is imperative in many situations like trying to complete a task in deadline and such. Modern lifestyle sometimes forces us to do many things in one day and often that time turns out to be insufficient. So, naturally, thinking fast and completing tasks efficiently is becoming crucial.
Fast thinking is commonly associated with creativity or brainstorming. For a limited period, it often generates productive outcomes and rewards our mental flow. However, one must possess required skills and interest towards the topic. Otherwise, forcing oneself to think fast can negatively affect outcomes and create more stress. If one wishes to think fast and become the master in brainstorming, they should choose those topics they are interested in.
Just like our body, our brain too can be trained to think fast.
Uniqueness and Repetition
Several studies have shown that by repeating new activities regularly, our brain automatically creates new pathways. Those pathways enable us to learn new things in a much faster and better way.
Exercising is something that is least expected in this list. However, body movements that we make while exercising also improve the fitness level of our brain. A brief exercise session facilitates memory functions as well as information processing.
Learn New Things
This is one of the quite obvious advice, but the more new things we infuse our brain with, the better and faster it performs. For instance, learning a new sport improves our skill of transforming into action based on what our mind sees. Similarly, learning a new language enables our brain in thinking and expressing in a different way.
Slow Thinking Is for Decisions Making
Slow thinking is more deliberate. This sets our mental processes in motion. It automatically begins when we pay attention, focus, analyse or control our behaviour, solve a problem, analyse and react to an argument, or partake in any activity that triggers the force of our brain.
In most cases, both modes work simultaneously in order to form an attitude and an opinion in order to make the final decision. That is why experts advise taking some time to think when deciding on important things instead of making rash decisions. Slow thinking involves conscious effort and discipline.
There are certain approaches which can assist our minds to dive into slow thinking mode.
As slow thinking demands time, allotting a fixed time slot in your calendar is a very wise approach. Many corporate leaders and managers follow this approach by allotting 60 to 90 minutes of their work time just for indulging in conscious thinking. However, slow thinking does not magically happen by itself – it demands a deliberate effort.
Track Your Progress with a “Done List”
One effective way to tackle fast thinking is to keep track of visible evidence that can enable you to track down day to day progress. It helps a lot in gaining a much-required perspective. You can make a list of completed tasks on a daily basis. Many corporate leaders and managers practice this as they work under strict deadlines and a lot of pressure. The list lets you keep track of details, and provides you with references to look back at and respond to accordingly. With your tasks written down, you will be more capable of thinking thoroughly and taking mature decisions.
Slowing down our thinking process and doing a mental check enables us to gain valuable insights, which is impossible with the fast thinking approach. Taking the proactive approach will enable you to influence your environment instead of simply reacting to it.
On the other side, there are times when people tend to drive you into fast thinking when you should make complex decisions. Do not let them! The more delicate the situation is or the consequences it bears, the higher the risk is to overlook something if you are in fast thinking mode, so don’t be afraid to take your time to make a decision or to give an answer.