The wheel of thought

The swings. The climbing frames. The slides. The monkey bars. These things are okay. But one apparatus outdoes them all. The roundabout.

When I was a kid in the park, the question that I used to ask myself was this: “How fast can I make the roundabout go?” The answer was always “not fast enough.”

I had two main strategies for turning the roundabout. The first was furious, manic pushing. I’d perch on the edge, holding the rails, standing on one leg. The other leg would be putting as much energy as possible into the ground, as fast as a small human could. And when I got tired of that? I’d switch to the second strategy. Strong pushes at regular intervals.  Perhaps every five seconds.

Those two strategies are how I work on problems now. It could be a section of my new book, or an idea for a business. Whatever it is, I tackle it the same way as I used to spin the roundabout. 

First, a long period of uninterrupted time. Ideally, at least two hours. Then, throughout the day, when I have two minutes, I bring it back to my mind and try to make some progress. I do that maybe ten times throughout the day.

I think of it as the wheel of thought. For whatever particular problem is my focus, the aim is to keep the wheel spinning. Which means that in the morning I devote a block of time to it. Then for the rest of the day, I repeatedly think of the problem. It’s uninterrupted, intense pushing followed by lighter, frequent pushes. A burst of big pushes followed by a series of small pushes. 

That’s the best way I’ve found to work on problems and keep the wheel of thought turning.