The ‘best’ option?

There comes a time in life, when you look ahead and ask yourself: What do I want to do?
That there are several possibilities in front of you.
And each possibility has its pros and cons.

This is exactly when you will feel consumed by the question: “Is this the best option or is there a better one?”
It is this very question that will transport you to a mental landscape, where it feels like you are thinking.  And thinking hard.

This landscape is a map. A map that lays out all the potential paths in front of you.
And you may swim around in this landscape for quite a while. This is where you believe you are making progress. Because, it feels like this thinking, is bringing you closer to the achieving the goal in mind. The underlying belief is that, after enough contemplation you will be able to decide, on the perfect path. One, that will give you the right results, in the most comfortable, certain and time bound way.

There must be a balance between thinking and doing. Only then will we get the expected outcomes. This is defined by the equation given below:

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For example, lets say you have to buy a laptop. You could go about it by taking either path:

Path 1: You spend one month researching, noting down the pros and cons, reading reviews and taking a trial. You compare the specifications of 10 options and then buy one. You get the delivery within a week.  After 5 weeks, there is a high probability of that you achieved your expected outcome. However, A few hours of every day across 4 weeks of your are life gone. Also, the same need, could have been met much sooner and you could have spent the same time, doing other things.

Path 2: You spend a few hours to ask 2-3 people for their recommendations and you buy 1 laptop. Hence, the probability of meeting your expected outcome will be low even since you did not spend any time in writing down your requirements.

Both these paths are extreme. They result in poor outcomes and hence we have no choice but to wrestle with the tradeoff between thinking and doing.

The Big Tradeoff – Thinking vs Doing

The benefit of thinking more is that the more you think, the higher the probability of being right. The downside of thinking more is that the more you think, the less time you have to actually get your work done:

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Please Note: There are diminishing returns to both doing and thinking (hence the shape of the curves): the 1st hour of thinking increases the probability of being right more than the 12th hour of thinking. The same is true for doing.

The expected outcome is just the amount of work that gets done multiplied by the probability of being right.

Optimal expected outcomes occur near the middle point where thinking and doing are balanced. This is illustrated as given below:

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(*Here wrong denotes unproductive tasks that do not help us achieve the expected outcomes and right denotes productive tasks that help us to achieve the outcomes)

Every person within a given period of time, will fall into one of the these three areas:

  1. Thinking Too Little: When you think too little you will have enough time to get a lot of stuff done, but they will be lots of the unproductive tasks that lead to delay or loss.
  2. Thinking Too Much: When you think too much you will end up not having enough time to actually get your goals accomplished.
  3. Thinking Just Right: When you think just the right amount, you will end up only having enough time to do a few things since you spend a good chunk of time thinking, but the few things you do execute on will be highly effective.

So how does one actually achieve the balance between thinking and doing? The right balance will be different by role and situation; there is no universal ratio of thinking vs doing. However, there are a certain indications that may clarify whether or not you are balancing the two:

You maybe thinking too much if:

  • You are only idea – focused: Your outcome has reached as far as your research based ideas or elaborate plans. So far, no measurable action has been taken on the execution of your idea.
  • You have neither succeeded nor failed: You have neither had any meaningful successes nor failures. You are giving excuses, or blaming external circumstances as to why you are unable to take action, but you are not jumping into the ring yourself and making your idea a success.
  • You keep changing your decision: You are constantly choosing different paths to achieve your outcome and then retracting your steps due to various external factors.  This means, you are not willing to take any risk.

You maybe thinking too little if:

  • You are too focused on ‘finishing off’ tasks: You keep doing tasks without planning. You are working hard but nothing concrete happens. This implies you’re simply doing things without a clear plan of how to achieve your outcomes.
  • You keep facing unexpected setbacks: You are constantly solving problems that you did not anticipate. This implies that more time could have been spent in planning your work and its consequences.
  • You keep failing for similar reasons: This implies you are doing the wrong things and not thinking through how to adjust from failure.

You maybe balancing thinking and doing if:

  • You are outcome focused: You take deliberate action on your plans and achieve your outcomes. You also change your plans based on what you learn from your failures.
  • You say ‘no’ if needed: You are able to analyse how to balance the urgent and the important. This means, you say “no” to tasks that are not necessary. You focus on doing a few of the right things instead of letting yourself get stretched too thin and being unproductive.
  • You find both success and failure: There is some certainty and some uncertainty in the work you do. You are able to take risks and learn some things along the way.

Balancing “thinking” and “doing” is no easy task, but simply knowing that balance is what we should strive for allows us to avoid the trap of glorifying “thinking” or “doing” on their own.

It is through this balance, that we drive productive outcomes based on our goals.

How did I come across this theory, you might ask?
Well, I have been considering re-entering the education space since a while. I have gone from ideation, to limited action, right back to thinking too much.
So, I thought to myself: What is the balance between thinking and doing. So, I read some articles and penned down my thoughts.

Enjoy the irony of that.

Also,

GO! DO! I am!

TAKE ACTION!

or Think more, before you act!

Mornings

It is safe to say, that I am not a morning person.
I do receive some good morning messages on my phone and to that I say:

However, today was a little different.

I woke up at 5am. This was after falling asleep blissfully at 10.30pm.

On a regular day, it would be 2 am – 8.30 am. So, waking up early and seeing 5 am on the clock would have made me feel infuriated, to say the least. However, today was somehow different.

It was one of those days when I felt as if I was a unicorn, that had eaten rainbows for breakfast. I felt pretty, and brighter than the sun.

Therefore, to all those who do not like early mornings and believe that the moon rise is way more refreshing, than the sunrise, here is a message for you:

Have fun.

Life can be boring!

Life can be quite boring.
Life can be absolutely mundane at times.
Life can also be repetitive.

Phew! Someone had to say it out loud.
We cannot skip through these parts.
We simply cannot.

We have to get through each of those the moments, hours and days.
This is when our mind begins to craft an alternate reality.
In this reality, we could be spending time with friends, a partner, or be in a different place, or more pleasant weather and being excited or happier.
We could find temporary solace in our imagination.

At other times, there is no happy ending to the day.
It ends with us feeling sour and incomplete.
We wish it was better, but it isn’t.
And that is okay.

Now at this point, we may try to philosophize why this is so, or ‘be positive’.
We may try to think of things that went well in our day, and be grateful.
We may try to remind ourselves of the teaching moments,
However, emptiness or plain boredom outweighs these.

This is very important to include, in our vision and expectation from life.
Sometimes, life passes slowly.
And that is okay.

Click

leaf rain photography.preview

“It is raining today, and I need an umbrella. Let me just get onto amazon and order it!” And in exactly 30 seconds, I got what I needed, and with amazon prime delivery, it would be at my doorstep on the same day. I thought to myself – “That was quick and convenient, and I didn’t even have to put in the effort to go outside!”

And then, I spent the next thirty minutes browsing through amazon and ordered 4-5 items including clothes, accessories and watches. This worked perfectly, for someone like me since I despise the hours wasted in stores. Online shopping gives me a chance to sit in my room and see multiple stores at once, without needing to walk around aimlessly in a mall. That would be one day from my life, I would never get back. On the other hand, online shopping is a dream come true! There are only 3 simple steps:

  1. Browse online
  2. Choose the items
  3. Pay for them

Could it be any easier?!

While I smile to myself, about that F.R.I.E.N.D.S reference, (All hail Chandler Bing!) I cannot but wonder, what I lost out in that transaction.

I lost, a reason to go outside, in the real world.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I will probably continue to shop online, for the most part. However, the loss in this choice, is definitely something to think about. If we turn back time, to the 90’s, where the online world did not exist, our neighbouring areas were our world.

Back then, as children, the only stores we could access were the ones near our home. Right before summer vacations were ending, I used to go to the local store with my mother, to buy all the school supplies.

It was a magical world where there were stacks of colorful lunch boxes and lines of water bottles, which made my face light up. Then, after touching and opening 10 boxes, I would choose one. This was not before a lovely banter with my mother about how I did not need a new and expensive lunchbox, but I insisted that I had to buy a new one, with my current favorite cartoon character. 

That was a beautiful time, when simple instances became memories. 

This is because, we would use all our senses to understand and interact with the world.

Today, two forces stop us from this interaction:

  • The alluring world behind the screen and
  • The innate desire for convenience over effort.

We make several choices, simply by a click of a button.

Every time, a decision is made to do something online v/s going out and doing it: We form a math equation in our head. If I were to do this physically, I would lose ‘x’ in time and ‘y’ in effort and ‘z’ for the time I could use to do something else.

However, this equation, does not account for the beauty of the world outside which does is neither a part of convenience nor effort, it is beyond what we can measure.

It is a real experience.

Therefore, for every choice made by clicking, you lose an opportunity to create a memory or the chance to observe something real.

So, if it is a rainy day – Get up, and go outside. Walk and feel the raindrops on your face and go buy that raincoat.

It is okay.

Go and get wet.

For once,

Choose an experience.

Not convenience.

Rain