I believe everyone needs time to think about work.
You may think that’s a strange thing to say, but it’s true. For those of us who have work days where every minute is maximized, time to reflect is precious. That reflection time may result in a new process that will save you time or money, an idea for a different approach to an issue that you’ve been battling, or some other light-bulb-brilliant moment that hits you because you gave yourself the breathing room to think.
I’m not talking forced thinking either … when you’re telling yourself you have to come up with a solution now, right now … I’m talking about that open-road-journey time to think when your brain has the space to stretch out a bit and see the wildflowers on the side of the road.
Before we go any further, I’ll honestly admit that my to-do list is always grander than I could possibly achieve in my day. With meetings offsite, conference calls, emails, phone calls, manager responsibilities, owner responsibilities, project manager responsibilities … the days are overflowing. But, I believe in time to think. It’s critically important in business. The question is how do you get yours? How do you make sure it happens for you?
Everyone has their own way of working their day and being effective. Some days won’t have this higher level of thinking time carved into it, but I’ve come to realize that I need this level of thinking in each of my weeks.
Smaller blocks of higher-level thinking may be easier to build into your day. Where can you build in yours? I do some of mine when I walk the dog in the morning. Usually, my mind starts thinking about the hot items for the day, and I’m working up solutions for them already. For me, this is my “thought burst” time.
Longer blocks of higher-level thinking may be more challenging to build into your day. I’ve come to realize that if I turn the music off in the car when driving somewhere that’ll take at least a half hour, my mind takes off. My brain is almost grateful that I’ve finally had to drive that long so it can figure out the solution to xyz. I keep a pad of paper and pen in the car to jot my thoughts down as these ideas come to me (old school, I know). But seriously, this quiet time in the car is a release for me – a time to let me think through an issue and come up with some solutions. It’s been very useful!
Exchange of Ideas
Whether with one other person or with multiple people, there are times when the time to think needs to be shared with others. The input the person or people may have when you start sharing the issue may solve the situation in a way you would not have conceived of on your own or may spur you on to think of a solution. Tonya and I were on a long road trip recently, and we took a portion of it for Juice to do this “exchange of ideas.” It was invaluable to me. There were some areas like my current plate that I’m too close to that she can see more objectively. Being open to think time with others can be very beneficial.
Bottom line: find your time to think about work. Figure out how to carve in your thinking time. You’ll find solutions that you’ve been searching for because you’ve finally given your mind the room to think it through and stretch its creativity.
Penny for your thoughts! 😉