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First of all, it’s crazy to think back and actually use something I learned in primary school and apply it to a real life situation. No offense primary schools.

Either way the point of this post is to work out what the correct amount of thinking time is for any given situation in life. I mean, much like the equations in school thinking time is altered by the conditions around a driver – is it wet? Icy? Dry? Gravelly? How fast are you going? What restrictions do you have? What are the options? These relative conditions will be deciding factors in your ultimate decision; they also alter how long your thinking time is. The point applies to business, relationships, socials, buying, selling, any act you can think of – thinking time is part of it, as are the relative conditions which alter the end decision. Sometimes you will over think, sometimes you will under think and often enough you will wonder whether the right decision was made. So the point of this post is: to simply talk about, and work out, whether there is a correct amount of thinking time needed.

Why Is Thinking Time Important?

Well this one’s easy, right? By not thinking about something for the right amount of time, you may end up making a poor decision.

Using Some Examples

The classic. When driving a car your thinking time is reduced the faster you’re driving mixed with the distance between your car and the one (or object) in front of you. In this instance, thinking is not so much a choice, but a necessity. Nonetheless each condition around you is taken into account. As someone who has been involved in a car crash I know first-hand exactly what happens when you know you’re about to crash, allow me to paint you a picture…

The lights have just turned green, and the one car in front of me pulled out of the side road and into the main turning left. I followed suit. When pulling into a main road one expects the car to ‘get up to speed’ (around the limit mark) relatively quick. However, this one car decided it would be a good idea to get up to about half the speed in half the time and then stop suddenly. This of course caught me off guard and I had about 4-5 seconds before I’d rear the back of the car. This is what happened in my head, in order…

    1) Oh shit I’m about to crash.
    2) Hit the brakes.
    3) Crap, the brakes aren’t enough, I’ll still hit the car, what else can I do?
    4) Looks left. I see the pavement with a woman pushing a pram. No-go-area!
    5) Looks right. I see oncoming car’s on the other side of the road. No-go-area!
    6) Accept the crash is coming and brace for impact.

Though my thinking time was short, I was able to play out each possible scenario in my head very quickly. Should there have been no oncoming cars or a lady on the pavement, the crash could’ve been avoided. One might also say if my car at the time had ABS braking installed it could’ve been avoided, but that’s beside the point!

Purchasing relative. Buying an expensive TV is an easy one to go with. Let’s be honest, when you get a place of your own you want a nice big TV. Everyone does. It’s the way it is. However what’s important is you think about it properly. For instance if you have lots of money spare and have no real commitment to need that money for anything else, the thinking time may be very short and the answer may be very simple. Though what if you don’t have a lot of money and need to save up for it? Suddenly you find yourself thinking…maybe I should buy the TV, but there’s lots of other things I could spend the money on, if I buy the TV, how long before I have that money back, will my girlfriend be pissed off, etc – these are your conditions relative to the situation, your things to consider.

It’s worth noting that the thinking time can be so diverse here; from seconds, to hours, to days, to months. The point is; how much is the right amount? What amount of thinking time will bring the best outcome?

Moving away. This is a difficult one. There are so many things to consider – where to go, what to sell, what to keep, why your moving, is it closer to where you want to be, do I have enough money, am I happy, can I wait, etc. Unfortunately for many people these decisions are not easy and thinking time comes into play. Thinking about moving is especially difficult and can last a lifetime; I’ve been around long enough to watch other people make the choice to move away and some to stay. Some have ended up moving to another part of the country, some to a new home round the corner, and some to a new country altogether. They all had just two things in common; the first was the desire to move and improve. The second was to finally make a choice, rather than procrastinate and elongate their thinking time. How much thinking time is necessary for deciding where and when to move away?

What’s The Right Amount of Thinking Time?

Meh, I think there is no right or wrong answer. From writing this post I have come to somewhat of a conclusion for myself, and what I think may be of use to others. So here’s what I believe to be true…

Thinking time must end.

It may seem simple. But seriously, if the thinking time never ends, you never make that decision. So what I’ve decided to do is attach an end date to every important decision I’m making. By adding an end date you are able to think more intensely about your decision – and come the end date and no decision is made, it usually means you haven’t been able to justify it one way or the other. In which case, the answer or decision had been made a long time ago; you just weren’t ready to admit it.

I hope this post is as useful to others as it has been for me. Sometimes just writing things down can make the road ahead a lot clearer.

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