The Golden Ratio of Thought to Action

Thought and action are intimately connected, if rarely simultaneous, activities.

The best minds in the world might not be able to deliver the goods, and the safest pair of hands will fail if they are implementing a flawed idea. Deficient thinking leads to failed action. Innovative thinking is let down by sub-standard delivery.

This is all pretty obvious stuff, but for me, the secret to success (and contentment) in all sorts of areas of life lies in the changing ratio of thought to action.

At the end of the day, we all seek to achieve the best possible results with the means that we have at our disposal. I am unlikely to achieve the literary success of J.K. Rowling, but in my own little world, for the blogs that I do write every day, I have to work out the best way of squeezing those thoughts out of my head and onto the computer screen.

If I am honest, I am still trying to work it out, but I do understand that there has to be a certain amount of thought before I can even contemplate sitting down at my laptop. We all think in different ways, but my best thinking takes place when I am doing something entirely different. Blog themes coalesce in my head as I am shooting a few netball goals, sipping a coffee in the kitchen or taking a refreshing shower. In my experience, ten minutes of unfocussed thought is enough to give me enough mental ammunition to get started. When I have gone through this initial thinking phase, the writing is so much more fluent. It has got the point where I find it hard to sit down and write immediately. On average, I think for ten minutes and write for sixty minutes, so my writing ratio is 1:6 to ensure the optimal result.

This ratio will be different for different activities, but if we are aware of what “works” for each activity, we will be using our time most productively. How many times have you found yourself sitting at your computer, trying to fill in a complicated spreadsheet? 30 minutes of daydreaming later, and you are no further on. Maybe, just maybe, if you spend 5 minutes grabbing a coffee and thinking about how you are going to go about completing the spreadsheet, the task might be that little bit easier to accomplish?

I am a big believer in working out these thought to action ratios. I suppose, for me, it lies at the hub of my productivity. Spending five minutes in the morning mentally planning my day leaves me feeling in control of my life. Deciding on a register of language to use before I make a difficult call has saved me a good few relationships. Pausing before I write every email to think about the outcome that I desire allows me to shoot it off without any worries about how my message is received.

Sometimes, we have to feel comfortable pausing our actions to allow us to think about what we are doing. After all, actions naturally breed thoughts. Every now and again that pause needs to be a longer one to let events catch up with us. I have learned that life is not all about action – sometimes simply mulling things over for a while will ensure the optimal result.

I think a lot about thinking. It is one of my favourite things to do.


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