Thoughts & Observations

No Time to Think

We no longer leave ourselves any time to think.

No open space in our days.

No white walls or blank sheets of paper.

No time when we aren’t reacting to what just happened and aren’t worrying about what will happen next.

As the amount of time that I spend responding to emails and Facebook messages and Tweets has gone up, I sense very deeply that the amount of creative thought that bubbles up during my day has gone down.

When we leave no blank space, we leave no time to notice things, no time for our synapses to connect, no time to connect the dots and synthesize bits and pieces from here and there. When we can’t do those things, we leave ourselves no opportunity to create and to make art.

We often leave no time to think for the same reason that we leave no time for exercise or any other type of self-care. We don’t do it because it can feel selfish and indulgent. We have work to do. We have people counting on us. We have people waiting for a reply to that email they sent 15 minutes ago. What are we doing relaxing in a yoga class or taking a 30 minute walk? The world needs us, so no, no, we can’t take any time for anything other than actively doing something directly in service of what the world needs right now.

But is that really what the world needs? Does the world really need us to be master emailers who get back in record time? Does the world need us to forgo our personal health and squash all of our creativity just so that we can fit in one more meeting?

We are in an amazing age where we have every technological and connection tool necessary to contribute something unique and interesting to the world. And yet those same tools – when allowed to rule every waking moment of our days – threaten to ensure that we could make it through life without much to show for it but a pile of sent emails and a clean inbox.

I think we want something different. And we can get there, if we just allow ourselves some time to think.


I’ve been thinking about all of this for a while. Staring a bit longingly sometimes at photos of rural Ireland or country roads upstate – thinking about space and time to let the mind wander. And then I stumbled across this post Scott Belsky published a couple of years ago that got me thinking even more – check it out for some of his insight and ideas on how to get some of that thinking time back.


4 thoughts on “No Time to Think

  1. Jessica….it seems like you were staring right through my soul on this one! It is exactly how I am feeling this week….as a full-time working mom and recruiter turned wanna-be blogger, I am struggling with the madness I have created. I absolutely love this post and now am going to pencil in some down-time thanks to you! In, addition….I’ll be sharing it with my friends….thank you and I hope all is well! Catina 🙂

  2. Ev

    Hi, Jessica. Wonderful post. Thank you. When I read the part, “As the amount of time that I spend responding to emails and Facebook messages and Tweets has gone up, I sense very deeply that the amount of creative thought that bubbles up during my day has gone down,” I stopped cold. You are not the only one! And then I read on and became sad, because I know I’ve been falling in the same trap. I watch myself, chained to my computer, and wish I wasn’t this way. Some days I snap out of it; I painted a picture a few days ago, and it was the best day of my entire week, because I didn’t turn my computer on until after 2:00 pm. I’m a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, and I thought that being in a 3rd world country would limit (or completely get rid of) my computer time. That has not been the case, so I have to consciously tear myself away in order to give myself time to think. When I get back to the U.S. it’s not going to get any easier, unless I start now. Thanks for the reminder.

    • jessicahlawrence

      You’re welcome and thanks so much for taking the time to write. We are lucky in so many ways to live in a world of hyper-connection – you would not have been able to read what I wrote or communicate with me, were that not the case. I think it is a matter of each us keeping a close eye on when any of our activities stop adding value to our lives and start subtracting value instead.

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