Below is The Productivity Paradigm Newsletter edition on Thinking vs Doing, with my own notes and comments added. (In italics). Blogged and commented because I want to remember and use it, and reading material passively doesn't go very far.
Thinking vs. Doing
What's the difference between devising an intention in your mind regarding the outcome of an action you are about to take (thinking), and doing something as a response to some stimulus or some stress-causing inducement?
Thinking, as a volitional activity, occurs to most people as hard work. It may seem that way because we don't think much as we progress through our day. We react a lot. Reaction, after reaction, after reaction, after reaction (and often simultaneous reactions)—which we justify as being productive, even when the evidence is overwhelming that it isn't.
As biological beings we have a lot of evolutionary history of simple conditioned response and emotionally driven reactions to stimuli than actually thinking.
And a lot of what doesn't work is down to those emotional reactions, often either to avoid something that seems frightening or daunting, or to latch on to something immediately pleasurable, forgetting what is more important.
Though another aspect – with people like me anyway – if that "thinking" itself becomes an unproductive habitual reaction. Reflecting and analysing over-much when a simple decision or action is needed. So that is not thinking as a volitional activity.
Consider this possibility: You could do 1/3 less than you do now and accomplish more, make a bigger difference, do more thorough, complete, valuable, useful work than you do now, by thinking rather than doing.
In addition to being one of the fundamental ways we define ourselves, doing is a habit. We are doing machines. By contrast, we are not accomplishment machines. Machines don't accomplish—they simply "do".
It is quite new and welcome for Mission Control or Landmark to be honouring thinking. Too often the conversation has been about action, "thinking makes no difference", etc.
I am not obviously a "doing machine", but much more that than an "accomplishment machine" certainly.
But I guess we wouldn't choose to be a machine of any kind. Rather a conscious being, creating a life of meaningful accomplishment.
Let's take a look at the fullness of thinking. To do that, we'll go to Websters Unabridged Dictionary:
Transitive senses: 1: to form or have in the mind. 2: to have as an intention. 3a: to have as an opinion. b: to regard as : CONSIDER. 4a: to reflect on : PONDER. b: to determine by reflecting. 5: to call to mind : REMEMBER. 6: to devise by thinking. 7: to have as an expectation : ANTICIPATE. 8a: to center one's thoughts on. b: to form a mental picture of. 9: to subject to the processes of logical thought.
Intransitive senses: 1a: to exercise the powers of judgment, conception, or inference : REASON b: to have in the mind or call to mind a thought. 2a: to have the mind engaged in reflection : MEDITATE. b: to consider the suitability. 3: to have a view or opinion. 4: to have concern. 5: to consider something likely : SUSPECT.
THINK is general and may apply to any mental activity, but when used alone often suggests attainment of clear ideas or conclusions.
By comparison, the number one meaning of DO is, 1: to bring to pass : CARRY OUT, which you can do all day with almost no thinking at all.
Remember: When you find yourself looking back at the dust, swirl, noise, excitement, and threats of the day, the measurement of your accomplishments occur in those lucid moments when you break the addiction of simply reacting and think your way through what you are about to accomplish.
Maybe we could say that productive doing starts with thinking, and productive thinking ends with doing.