I’m big on productivity. Do, do, do, and DO some more. But many times we can accomplish more with our business if we, for the moment, stop doing and just THINK.
Slowing down and taking the time to think helps to put all the pieces together, and can make the time that we spend doing much more productive.
To be honest, I haven’t spent enough time thinking about my business. This has been especially true as I often get up first thing in the morning and as is true for most people, grab my phone or computer, check email, and then start responding to the demands of the day.
Before I know it, the day is done, and all I’ve really done with my time is REACTED to what happened throughout the day.
I was hit on the side of the head the other day through something a member of my mastermind group, Dale Callahan, said. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to be profound or impact me or anyone else, because all he did was in a very casual way mention his “thinking time.”
I asked him about this and he explained to me that he has two hours per week set aside for thinking. The short version of what he does is that he sits down with a cup of coffee, a piece of paper and a pen, and starts writing. He doesn’t have a specific agenda, but usually starts with something bothering him.
After he’s finished brainstorming for awhile, he opens up a mindmapping program and inputs the info on the paper. He spends about an hour and 45 minutes with the brainstorming and mindmapping process, and then the last 15 minutes is spent reviewing his notes. This thinking time has become one of the most important things he does in his business.
Here’s how to make “thinking time” an effective part of your business.
1. Schedule time to think
The first thing that I noticed about Dale’s thinking time is that it is a set time each week — Friday, from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
One of the biggest reasons that most of us fail to have time to think about our business is that we don’t put it on our calendar. We may realize that we need time to think, but feel that we don’t have time simply because we haven’t designated time to do so.
The specific time itself (e.g. Friday morning) isn’t important, meaning that you can do it at whatever time works best for your schedule, but it likely won’t happen if it’s not on your calendar.
2. Have a plan for your thinking time
Notice that while simple, Dale has a plan that includes:
- Pen and paper
The important thing is not to follow his exact plan, but to create one of your own. When I tried “thinking time” this past week, I used a Google Doc instead of pen and paper. And I didn’t use mindmapping software, but instead, rearranged things on the doc as I went, in a rather messy way.
When something that I jotted down on my doc required action, I highlighted it in yellow to make it easier to find later.
At the end, I wrote a brief summary along with any action steps I needed to take.
So you can see that my process is different from Dale’s and yet includes the same basic components.
3. Schedule action steps
Thinking time can, in and of itself be effective even if you don’t intentionally create a plan from it, simply because the very act of thinking and writing bring clarity and that clarity can make everything else easier and more productive.
But for me, the real magic comes from using my thinking time to figure out what I need to DO as a result of what came to the surface during my thinking time.
I personally like to set aside some time to review what came up in my previous thinking time. In addition to my action items that I’ve schedule, there may be some other gems that can be used in things like blog posts, or insights that I need to keep in mind regarding decisions and relationships.
The bottom line is that while you may feel that you don’t have time to just sit and think, the reality is that you can’t afford not to spend time thinking.
So go block out some time on your calendar to think about your business this week.
I can’t wait to hear about what you gain as a result of your thinking time!