28 BEST Ways – How To Be A Quick Thinker (2021)

10 min read

If you’re wondering how to be a quick thinker, this guide will prove useful.

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients to expand their brain whether that’s cognitively, emotionally or some other way.

That’s why I’m excited to share this list of tips to help you think faster. 

Let’s dive right into it.

How To Be A Quick Thinker
Photo by Paola Aguilar on Unsplash

How To Be A Quick Thinker: 28 Tips

The more of these ideas you can implement into your life, the more you’ll improve your ability to think fast.

1. Practice Doing Things Quickly

You’ll notice in a lot of these examples that the ability to think quickly is developed when you force yourself to do so.  

Perhaps you’ve noticed that people tend to perform tasks close enough to the exact amount of time they’re given.

Shorter deadlines force people to focus their brains faster and perform tasks with more speed. 

This is a skill that gets easier with experience. 

So, get in the habit of setting yourself quick deadlines every day for regular tasks like loading the dishwasher or hanging up the washing. 

2. Stop Multi-Tasking

It’s a myth that multi-tasking makes us more productive. In fact, it’s often the opposite because it slows down our focus on each seperate task we’re trying to complete.

James Clear talks about this a lot in his highly-accredited book ‘Atomic Habits’.

Two ideas related to the mental costs of multi-tasking mentioned in this book are: 

  • Switching costs. The amount of time it takes our brain to fully refocus when we switch between two exercises. It’s a lot more than you might realize.  
  • Attention residue. The idea that some of your attention remains focused on the previous unfinished task, when you’re in the middle of your present one, slowing you down significantly.  

By focusing on one task to its completion, you’ll eliminate both of these hurdles to clear thinking and get things done a lot faster.   

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3. Be Socially Active

The simple act of regularly being in face-to-face conversations can help train your brain to think faster.

That’s because, in any conversation, we often feel pressure to respond within a reasonable time, so as not to lose the other person’s attention or test their patience.

This pressure is maximised if you’re in a sales job, or any conversation where you’re meeting new people and need to persuade them to keep talking to you. Debating with friends and family is one example of this. Flirting with attractive singles in a bar could be another one ;).  

If most of your conversations these days are via text message, you won’t feel this pressure to answer quickly, so you won’t be training your brain to think fast. 

4.Trust In Your Faculties

Over-thinking is an action which prevents quick thinking. Instead of being decisive, over-thinkers ponder too much over every possible outcome when they make decisions.

Yes, there’s an upside to considering your options, but doing this for too long can mean you lose opportunities. 

A great way to get over being an over-thinker is to learn to trust in your ability to recover if you make a mistake.

Take a moment now to recall some of the times when you initially made an error, but still got a job done. It’s more common than you think. 

The ability to move first and learn as you go is what puts leaders ahead of the pack in business. It’s a good skill to learn, so don’t shy away from doing this.

5. Embrace The Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule)

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your fruits will come from 20% of your labor. In other words, some actions are more profitable than others. 

When you realize this to be true, you’ll also see that some decisions are more important than others.

This realization can help you stop sweating over the small stuff, and be more assertive about the small decisions in your life. 

6. Know Your Field Of Expertise Like The Back Of Your Hand

The more you know about your field of expertise, the quicker you become at making decisions related to it.

The world’s best athletes can make split-second decisions because they’ve put in the hours on the field.

You could say the same for the expert negotiators in this world. They’ve put in the time to learn their craft to the point of mastery. This is what allows them to make decisions in an instant.

7. Throw Yourself In At The Deep End

More than anything else, the primary instincts of the human brain are to keep you alive and prevent you from embarrassing yourself. That’s part of the reason why we hesitate before we do something important.

During these moments of hesitation, it’s often impossible to think clearly. Our brain is too caught up in the ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Anxiety prevents quick thinking before the fact.   

But what happens when we push ourselves past the point of no return? Now, the brain’s primary instincts will work to try and help you do the right thing, because now not being able to think of anything could harm or embarass you. 

So, if you often get stuck overwhelming yourself thinking about the best move to make, try throwing yourself in at the deep end instead. If you spot someone attractive in a bar, for example, focus on saying ‘Hi’ and trust in your faculties to come up with the best next thing to say.  

8. Practice Sports

Most competitive sports require you to develop a fast reaction time in order to succeed. You’re ‘thrown in the deep end’ to an extent, because if you don’t act fast, you’ll ruin the play and ultimately lose the game. The more you practice, the easier it will become to develop these fast reactions that lead you to success.

Doing so can improve your overall focus, allow you to think on your feet and become quicker at decision-making in other areas of your life too.  

9. Get Plenty Of Physical Exercise

Even if you aren’t competing in team sports, studies suggest that a regular dose of aerobic physical exercise can help improve your brain processing speed.

On top of that, a famous 2009 study, published in the PNAS journal, found a link between a young adult’s cardiovascular health and their IQ.

10. Join A Toastmasters Group

Toastmasters is an international-renowned program for practicing public speaking. Many of its public speaking exercises ‘throw you in the deep end’ mentally rather than physically.

It’s common that you’ll be given a topic, then challenged to complete a speech on it within a few seconds, for example. It’s a great challenge to help you think on your feet. 

11. Play Brain Training Games

There are plenty of ‘brain training’ smartphone apps available on Android and iOS and many of these have problem-solving exercises that require fast thinking, therefore training your brain to think faster. These apps are great for overall brain function too. 

On top of that, there are plenty of classic board games with a timer that can also get you in the habit of processing information and acting quickly. How about you sharpen your problem-solving skills with Boggle or Pictionary?

Chess is another game that can aid fast thinking, provided you use timers.  

12. Indulge In Creative Hobbies

If sports aren’t your thing, there are other creative hobbies which require quick thinking, such as video games or playing a musical instrument.

Those jazz musicians you see improvising spontaneously have become masters of fast thinking, as well as knowing their instruments like the back of their hand, of course.

There are plenty of video games, which require fast thinking in order to succeed. In fact, there are plenty of e-sports players out there who have faster reactions than actual athletes. 

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13. Eat A Healthy Diet

A well-balanced diet isn’t just great for your physical health. The food you put in your body will have a significant impact on the processing speed of your brain.

Fruits and vegetables are commonly associated with clearer and faster thinking. 

Meanwhile, all types of sugars are widely believed to slow down your brain. I’m sure you’ve suffered from the ‘carb crash’ where your productivity slumps after overdosing on carbohydrates at lunch.

So, if you’re struggling to think fast throughout the day, the answer could be to create a healthier diet with less processed sugars. 

14. Take Supplements 

Supplements are great for your physical health, but there are dozens associated with improved focus and faster thinking too. Among the most commonly cited are: Vitamin K, fish oils, turmeric and phosphatidylserine.

Then, there are nootropics or ‘smart drugs’. Some people take these for a short-term boost in focus, but research on the side-effects of nootropics remain limited. Do your own research before investing in these.

15. Get Plenty of Sunlight

Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D, which has been proven to add brain function, allowing you to think faster and clearer. You can also take a Vitamin D supplement if you’re not fortunate to get sunny weather all year round where you live. 

16. Drink Caffeine

Caffeine is the most commonly-consumed psychoactive supplement. Indeed, there are millions (maybe billions) of people across the world who feel more ready to take on their daily tasks after their morning cup of tea or coffee.

There are side-effects from overdosing on caffeine – and it’s possible to develop a tolerance which limits its impact – but it’s genuinely regarded as one of the safest and most effective ways to improve clarity and speed of thinking. 

17. Give Up Smoking

Smoking is believed to starve the brain of oxygen and glucose, slowing down your speed of thinking. Other activities that harm your cardiovascular system can do the same. 

18. Take Regular Breaks

Our brains get fatigued, just as our body does. Take short breaks throughout the day, if you want to maintain the ability to think quickly for longer. A lot of productivity experts suggest working in blocks of 50 minutes flat-out, followed by ten minutes to give your brain a rest. 

19. Sleep

Sleep is the ultimate method of resting your brain. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted and your reactions sloppy. Experts suggest you should sleep for 7-8 hours per day to keep your brain well rested.  

20. Practice Meditation

Meditation is the practice of focusing on one thought, or something outside of your thoughts, such as your breathing.

When outside thoughts pop into your brain during your practice – as they inevitably will – you are encouraged to calmly shift your mind back onto your meditation.

The perceived benefits of meditation are vast, but a common benefit is that it helps you to stay focused and stop being distracted by random thoughts during your everyday life. This improved focus and lack of distraction aids your quick thinking skills.

21. Relax!

It’s not just meditation that can help you stop feeling overwhelmed with thoughts. If you can learn to live a more slow and relaxed life, this can calm your mind and you can actually end up getting more done!

It’s when you try to cram too many things into one day that your brain gets overwhelmed, and you can’t think as clearly.

So, if you’re looking to become a quicker thinker, do what you can to free your mind from anxiety. When you free yourself from unhelpful thoughts, you give your brain more processing power to concentrate on completing a task faster.  

22. Stay Away From Anti-Depressants

If you want to be an expert at quick thinking, it would appear you’re best off staying away from anti-depressants. Researchers suggest they cause brain activity to slow down, by blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. 

23. Don’t Over-Indulge In Alcohol

Decreased reaction time – both physically and mentally – is a well-known side-effect of being drunk. It’s tougher to perform at your full mental capacity when you’re hungover too. 

However, you may not know that regular alcohol consumption can have a detrimental long-term impact on your speed of thinking too.

There are plenty of reasons not to overdo it with your drinking – and your ability to process thoughts quickly is one of them.   

24. Try ‘Visual Thinking’

When you doodle your thought process on a piece of paper, it activates the ‘visual’ part of your brain. There’s every chance that this part of your brain allows you to process ideas faster. Try it for yourself and see if your thinking speed improves. 

25. Read A Book

Reading just doesn’t just expand your imagination and help you learn more about the world. There are several studies suggesting it can also keep your brain sharp as you get older. The loss of memory and brain function, which generally occurs as we get older is believed to slow if you’re a regular reader.

In fact, people who regularly engage their minds through mental exercises, whether that’s reading or playing board games, are believed to be 2.5 times less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. It’s a great hobby for your mental health. 

So, why not make a habit of reading a book before you sleep? That’s a smart idea because reading before bedtime is also believed to help you sleep better.

26. Watch Some Comedy Shows

Research suggests that comedy helps to reduce stress hormones, which helps you to feel more relaxed and think more clearly. This feeling has also been linked to improving short-term memory. 

27. Chew Gum

Studies suggest that chewing gum improves reaction times, focus and mental accuracy. Supposedly, the act of chewing increases levels of oxygen in parts of the brain responsible for attention. That’ll improve your thinking speed, for sure. 

There have been links between chewing gum and improved short-term memory too.  

28. Yawn When You Feel The Urge

The act of yawning is your body sending extra oxygen to your brain – and cooling it down also. This improves brain function, including the ability to think fast.

So, don’t resist the urge to yawn when you feel it, even if it feels rude. Yawning will help you focus on whatever you’re doing better and finish your tasks with more speed.  

Any more Questions About Quick Thinking Or The Ability To Think Faster? 

Thanks for reading my post! I hope I was able to help you learn more about quick thinking. 

As you can see, the ability to think on your feet comes from practice, but there are plenty of ways to train your brain to think faster. It’s surely one of the best skills for you to learn. 

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If you have any questions related to thinking fast or the ability to process information quickly, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.  

I’ll do my best to answer all your questions or give advice on your specific problem.

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