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A Minute to Think
Read in 14 min.
Listen in 18 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Juliet Funt

A Minute to Think

How to free up our days and make space for thinking

We live in a chaos culture, where saying no or having a moment’s rest effectively ruins our chances of having a successful career. We are addicted to the frenzy, and change often seems impossible. In the long run, however, this way of living depletes our mental energy, reduces our creativity, and can also lead to burnout. In A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work, Juliet Funt helps us to discover the power of strategic pauses, and explains how to create what she calls ‘white space’, a place in which we momentarily forget our endless commitments, and make room to think, breathe, ponder, plan, and create.

A Minute to Think
Read in 14 min.
Listen in 18 min.

If we do not take breaks from work, we miss the moments of serendipity that allow us to shine

When we light a fire, we need to organise several different components in a very precise arrangement. We have to start with scrunched up paper, then add small sticks to make a pyramid, and only then can we put the larger logs over the top so that they will give us a long, slow heat. There is one element, however, that is often overlooked when arranging wood for a fire, and that is space. It is the space between the different combustible elements that allows the fire to ignite and continue burning. Without adequate space, the fire dies within seconds, because it does not have enough oxygen to burn.

This law of nature also applies in life, and especially at work. When our week is so busy that it looks like the final stage of a Tetris game, then we have a problem. It means that there is not enough oxygen to keep our fire burning, and there is absolutely no use in wasting our matches in a vain attempt to keep a flame alive when it will inevitably die out.

Life in the 21st century has trapped us in a trance of feigned productivity. Many people believe that being busy corresponds to productivity, but this is not the case: we can be very busy but not very productive and vice versa. What’s more, everything always seems to be urgent, whether it is writing an email or saving a life. This constant pressure weighs us down in a state of constant stress, and this quickly leads us to feel overwhelmed and unable to switch off. Slowing down, or even just taking a break from time to time, often makes us feel uncomfortable, because we are no longer used to it, and we try to cope with this growing sense of anxiety by filling our calendar with endless commitments. As time goes on, and this pattern repeats itself day after day, we also begin to feel increasingly guilty as we start neglecting our family, health, and dreams, and we forget why we are even doing it in the first place.


The key ideas of "A Minute to Think"

If we do not take breaks from work, we miss the moments of serendipity that allow us to shine
Insatiability, conformism, and saying yes to unnecessary tasks have got us stuck in overdrive
White space is the solution to an overwhelmingly hectic life
Taking a strategic break is the first step to access white space
The Wedge is a variation of white space, and allows us to implement the tool more easily in our daily lives
The four forces that are responsible for our professional overload
Adopting a reduction-focused mindset allows us to access white space
Urgency is a choice, so we need to understand when it is real, and when it is not
Take-home message
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