Mental overload is the #1 obstacle to thinking. Whether it’s too many things to think about, too many emotions to give you space to think, or too much complexity to untangle in your head, it is THE problem. Indeed, what distinguishes humans from animals is that we have more mental abilities to deal with overload. […]

We often hear about psychological studies which purport to show that physical circumstances affect people’s judgment. For example, in one study people were given either hot coffee or iced coffee to hold, then they read a packet of information about a fictitious person. When asked whether the fictitious person was friendly or not, subjects in […]

One of the members of the Thinking Lab mentioned that he has difficulty setting realistic goals for his major projects, because his expectations are unrealistic. I’d venture to say that most people set unrealistic goals in at least some areas. This is a big problem. Unrealistic goals amount to wishful thinking. That doesn’t help you […]

A friend once shared with me how her 17-year-old daughter adapted some advice for her own purposes. It’s an inspiring story with several lessons. The young woman was training to become an opera singer — an ambitious, long-term goal. It was particularly challenging for her because she wouldn’t be entering a formal program for some […]

In the past, I’ve talked about the need to identify a unitary goal in order to be more productive. A unitary goal is: ONE thing you are trying to do. You cannot be nimble if you are trying to achieve a twofer (accomplish two things at once) or if you are vague on your goal. […]

There are many ways to categorize your to-do list to help you decide your priorities. David Allen recommends you categorize by type of activity (calls, online work, offline computer work, errands, etc.). Then, when you are looking for the next thing to do, you can immediately look at the items that you can do in […]

In this newsletter I am continuing my campaign to end the battle between reason and emotion. I’d like to address another facet of that battle: the problem of bizarre, intense emotions. First a story, then the explanation. Some years ago, I held a small monthly discussion group for an association I belonged to. The discussions […]

Last winter I got a surprise. I saw for myself that some people are deeply motivated by a desire for destruction, as opposed to a desire to gain values. Perhaps I have led a sheltered life, or maybe I accept the people I meet at face value. But I took for granted that everyone I […]

When you set priorities for the day, you accept a risk. If you do not finish those tasks today, for whatever reason, you will have negative feelings at the end of the day. At a minimum, you will feel sad, just from the failure to meet your own expectations. If interruptions and factors outside of […]

A deluxe member of the Thinking Lab asked me to clarify how I reduce the size of my lists: “I was struck by your lists never having more than 7 things on them. This seems self-evident and also incomprehensible to me. What about stuff that you’re not sure about that you don’t want to lose […]

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