Stuck in A ‘Thought’ Rut

Have you ever struggled from switching from one mode of thinking to another?

I spend much of my time engrossed in books, trying to draw out new knowledge and insights from the experience of the authors. A lot of the text I read often requires a lot of analytical thought, sometimes technical ability. However, in programming reading is not enough, for progress to be made and for greater insights, you often need to work through the examples.

Sometimes this requires a different mode of thinking, instead of receiving information you are trying to create it. At this point I find it tricky to make the switch. I find myself stuck in receiving mode, and trying to come up with new ideas requires great mental effort.

This pickle was enough to intrigue me. How can you switch between different modes quickly, or more effectively?

Cue ‘Six Thinking Hats’  by Edward de Bono. I could have interpreted the premise of the book incorrectly – however, as I understand it, it is about being aware and able to change the method of thinking (as though you were changing hats).


I bought this book the same time as ‘Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity‘, another great work on the mechanics of the mind by Ed de Bono. An insightful book on lateral thinking, although the later chapters are quite vexing.

Another good book is ‘Where Good Ideas Come From: The Seven Patterns of Innovation‘ by Steven Johnson. Although I’m not sure I actually finished it. I will need to check. However, I digress. I am hopeful that this book will provide some clues as to how to change from analytical thinking to creative thinking more fluidly.

Another kink in the plan is opening the book has the strange effect of making my eyes glaze over. I believe I have also become accustomed dissecting books and texts by highlighting and transferring key ideas to my personal wiki. Something I have done with previously mentioned books on creativity.

Why? Because I find that keeping ideas in a centralized repository makes it easier to access the information. It’s a slower method of knowledge transferring, but keeping notes in one place makes it easier to revisit the information in a back and forth motion between different references and texts.

It is kind of my own way of physically structuring a synoptic reading of a particular subject. Which again, draws out new insights about the subject. I look forward to reading this book and assimilating it into my library.

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