How to Think More Effectively Book Summary - How to Think More Effectively Book explained in key points
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How to Think More Effectively summary

The School of Life

A guide to greater productivity, insight and creativity

4.4 (1004 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

"How to Think More Effectively" by The School of Life is a guide to improve your critical thinking skills. It helps you to identify cognitive biases, make better decisions, and solve complex problems by using different perspectives and creativity.

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    How to Think More Effectively
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Devote more time to evaluating your ideas, values, and goals.

    How good are you at prioritizing?

    Most of us believe we’re first-rate. As rational people, we like to think we attend to the most important things in life first, and only then turn our attention to less pressing tasks. In other words, we think our priorities are pretty much in order.

    But are they really? Look closely. Many people’s priorities are actually mixed up. We spend little time engaging with serious, important questions about the value of our goals – and instead jump straight to trying to make those goals happen.

    Do you ask yourself whether more money will really make you happy? Or do you just thoughtlessly pursue a greater income? And have you ever asked yourself whether you’d be better off single, or do you grudgingly plod on in familiar but unhappy relationships?

    Things don’t have to be that way.

    The key message here is: Devote more time to evaluating your ideas, values, and goals.

    It’s easy to say you’ll start evaluating your goals more thoroughly, but actually following through can be tricky: that’s why you need a plan. The first step is to become aware of how much time you devote to executing your plans, and how much time you spend evaluating and strategizing in a more reflective manner. If you currently only evaluate and strategize about 5 percent of the time, try upping that figure to 15 or 20 percent.

    The next step is to try and get over your discomfort. Fundamental, first-order questions are tricky – contemplating purpose and value can often make us feel uneasy. There’s no quick fix for that: the solution is simply to practice.

    Before you jump straight to the execution of an idea that enters your head, try to spend more time actually interrogating it. Ask yourself searching questions about what you’re doing and what you plan to do – questions about value, purpose, and ultimate significance.

    Dare to subject your aims to probing words like “why,” “to what end,” and “of what importance.” It may sound like a recipe for stagnation and inaction, but, well, the alternative isn’t pretty either: a life spent in the pursuit of accolades you don’t desire, money you don’t need, and relationships – both romantic and platonic – that ultimately leave you cold.

    However long it takes, this shift from impulsive action to a more discriminating, evaluative disposition will make your thinking richer, subtler, and more effective.

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    What is How to Think More Effectively about?

    How to Think More Effectively (2020) is a simple guide to improving the way you think. Drawing lessons from sources as diverse as the feeling of envy and the prose of Proust, it lays out the characteristics of effective thoughts – and shows how you can start cultivating them.

    How to Think More Effectively Review

    How to Think More Effectively (2021) by The School of Life presents practical strategies for improving our thinking skills and enhancing our decision-making abilities. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its accessible explanations and relatable examples, the book helps us make sense of complex ideas and apply them to our daily lives.
    • It offers a wide range of thinking techniques that can be applied to various aspects of our lives, fostering creativity, problem-solving, and effective communication.
    • The book challenges our conventional ways of thinking and encourages us to explore new perspectives, empowering us to approach challenges with curiosity and open-mindedness.

    Who should read How to Think More Effectively?

    • Reflective types who want to up their cognitive game
    • Creatives trying to release their inner potential
    • Anyone who’d like to feel a little bit smarter

    About the Author

    The School of Life is an organization devoted to helping people lead richer, more fulfilling lives. It believes that the humanities can help us develop emotional intelligence, wisdom, empathy, communication skills, and much more. With premises in cities like London, Amsterdam, and Seoul, the School of Life offers educational films and books, classes, and therapy sessions.

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    How to Think More Effectively FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Think More Effectively?

    The main message of How to Think More Effectively is learning how to improve our thinking process to make better decisions and live a more fulfilling life.

    How long does it take to read How to Think More Effectively?

    The estimated reading time for How to Think More Effectively varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Think More Effectively a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Think More Effectively is a valuable read for anyone looking to enhance their thinking abilities. It provides practical insights and strategies to navigate the complexities of life.

    Who is the author of How to Think More Effectively?

    The author of How to Think More Effectively is The School of Life.

    What to read after How to Think More Effectively?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Think More Effectively, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Living in Flow by Sky Nelson-Isaacs
    • The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles
    • Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
    • Attention Span by Gloria Mark
    • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    • Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
    • The Power of Discipline by Daniel Walter