When I have asked audience members for the longest number of hours they have spent staring at screens, working on a problem, without getting up, the answers area always surprisingly large–the record is currently 16 hours! When asked about the length of time, the response is always, “But I solved the problem!” I then ask, “Suppose you could have done it in half the time? Or less? Let’s learn what System 1 can do for us and hand work over to it by getting up and taking a break or moving to another task or even just doing nothing.”

System 1 and System 2 are the unconscious and conscious parts of our brain. Nobel-prize winning author, Daniel Kahneman, says in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” that we waste enormous amounts of energy using our limited System 2 resources to do everything. Kahneman and others have now done a lot of research that we should be applying. We make some decisions and solve some problems quickly and intuitively because System 1 is always at work. This can be beneficial except for the flawed approach System 1 often uses. It is influenced by a number of cognitive biases. These biases are hardwired–they meant survival at one time–but now they often hinder us. It would be good to know when to question the assumptions of System 1 and be able to make more rational decisions. Of course, if it’s a flavor of ice cream or how many cans of soup to buy, let System 1 help you out, but if you’re buying a house or getting married or contemplating a job change, or tracking down an elusive bug, involving System 2 can lead to better decisions.

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