My friend, Jean Moroney has granted us permission to share her article, “Don’t Let Pressure Sabotage Your Thinking.” I enjoy her writing style so much, I like to share it. I consider her someone who thinks outside the box and is problem solver. She is rational and creative, a great combintion.
Just so you know a little about Jean, here is a very brief capsule.
Jean Moroney teaches managers and other professionals how to tap their own knowledge bank to solve problems faster, make better decisions, and communicate more effectively. Corporations hire her to train their managers in “Thinking Tactics” to help them get more done with fewer resources. This article originally appeared in her free email newsletter. Subscribe at <http://www.thinkingdirections.com>http://www.thinkingdirections.com or email <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
Don’t Let Pressure Sabotage Your Thinking
Pressure can sabotage your thinking. By pressure, I mean an issue
weighing on your mind as you try to concentrate on something else.
Perhaps it’s an imminent deadline or a desperate desire to do a
fantastic job. Maybe it’s a highly-charged emotional situation you
haven’t had time to resolve. Or maybe it’s just that other project
you’re working on. To keep the issue from distracting you, you
heighten your vigilance, redouble your effort, and try to plug ahead
Unfortunately, this well-intentioned strategy is sabotaged from the
start. To hold an issue at bay takes up valuable mental attention.
You must split your mental resources, with only part focused on the
task at hand. The rest is devoted to holding the weighty issue in the
limbo of peripheral awareness.
There are very few thinking tasks that need only part of your brain.
You need to clear that pressing issue off your mind so you can use
your full intelligence on the other topic.
How do you do that? One way or another, there is always some step
you need to take to address the issue for now, so you are free to
drop it from your mind.
For example, suppose an undone chore is pressing on your mind.
Write down a reminder to yourself–that’s usually enough to clear it
off your mind.
If a more complicated task is distracting you, you can get if off
your mind by thinking it through to the next *physical* action (as
David Allen teaches), and then putting that item on your to-do list.
Here are some other ways to address an issue that is weighing on
–If you are worrying about something that might happen: Make a
contingency plan for how you will handle it.
–If there is a decision that needs to be made: Identify the
information you need to make the decision. If you don’t have
enough information, plan how you’ll get it, then let go for now. If
you have all the information, make a list of pros and cons, and give
yourself the instruction to percolate in the background on the
decision for now.
–If you feel deadline pressure: Identify the kernel that you can
complete in half the available time, and focus on that. (I teach this
as “Planned Evolution,” an approach that also helps with pressure
–If you are feeling an intense emotion: Introspect it. Ask, “What do
I feel?” and “Why do I feel it?” This calms the emotion and puts
you back in control. (I teach this as “Introspection 101.”)
–If you have a problem that you need to solve, plan precisely when
and how you will devote time to address it, and explain to yourself
why you are right to put it off until then.
The key in each case is to use just *a few minutes of targeted
thinking* to address the weighty issue. Maybe you can settle it in a
few minutes. Or, maybe you will use those minutes to figure out
how you’ll deal with it later. In either case, you resolve the issue
for the time being. You eliminate the urgency to think about it more
right now–which means you can devote your full attention to
whatever you were trying to concentrate on in the first place.
It helps to know specific tools to quickly address each type of issue.
A large portion of my class on Thinking Tactics concerns such
tools. But common-sense logic will get you rather far. Just keep in
mind that the goal is to clear the load off your mind in a short time.
Pressure is an important warning signal. When you feel pressure,
clear the load; free up your mental resources so you can concentrate
100% on your main task. There is no better use of your mind at
II. San Francisco, September 25, 2010 Thinking Tactics
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Hotel TBD (near San Francisco Airport)
9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
This workshop is a “go.”
There are no cookbook solutions to real-life problems. To tackle
life’s challenges, you need a mental toolkit to help you tap your
own knowledge bank to solve problems faster, make better
decisions,and communicate more effectively. Such a toolkit is what
you get from Jean Moroney’s all-day workshop on Thinking Tactics.
Testimonial from Mary Ann DeRaad:
“Jean Moroney’s classes in thinking contain essential material for
anyone who seeks to live successfully. The techniques offered in
both the Thinking Tactics workshop and the subsequent monthly
teleclasses are remarkable.
“Her language is fresh and her approach is clear and concise. Not
only does she attack problem solving for all kinds of work-related
projects, but also for ‘living life at its best possible’ related
“Through her insights and with her encouragement, I have launched
and continue to improve a new career, a new home, and a new
marriage. These take thinking — serious, important planning and
“Her teaching style is so precise and goal-directed that it is
impossible to feel clumsy or silly when asking for advice. NO
question is uninteresting to her! The teaching goal, for all her
students, is the effective application of the techniques discussed.
“As a successful teacher of piano for 40 years, I look eagerly for
fine teaching. It is not so easy to discover! But I have found it in
Jean Moroney’s classes. Fine teaching requires a sincere effort to
understand the student, to approach the problems and questions with
every possible consideration toward finding a solution.”
–Mary Ann DeRaad, Tucson, Arizona
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Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”