by Paul Casey

Why You Must Schedule “Thinking Time”

The whirlwind of your life is real. From the moment you wake up, it’s easy to get swept into it and be spun around by it until crashing into bed at night. You are busy all day! But a consequence of this relentless life-pace is the absence of what I call “thinking time”: the undisturbed space to let your mind play with ideas that could make a difference in the quality of your (or your team’s) life.

With too much “noise” in your life (interruptions; tasks; screens; time-commitments), there is very little time to sit still and think. Thus, one day blurs into another and you stay on the treadmill with its predictable scenery. Creativity is not given any seeds to grow. You will need to get to a quiet place and carve out calendar space to make it happen.

This is no easy task, even for me who thrives on playing with nuances in my time management, to always be on a quest to live the most efficient/effective days. I will calendar “thinking time”, but when that time comes, there seems to always be something “more important” to take precedence. Thinking time seems like such a luxury, and it would be most likely misunderstood from anyone learning of this priority in my schedule.

Sure, it’s not urgent, but thinking time is important. Our best solutions often hit us in solitude–in the shower, on an airplane, sitting by the river, or on the open road. It’s like our brain opens up and gets to frolic a little in a new meadow.

If you question this need for thinking time, consider what you might actually think about in this special hour with your door closed or at a local library or on a walk:

  • A problem needing a solution. You keep enduring the negative consequences, because you simply haven’t made time to brainstorm solutions.
  • A script for a necessary crucial conversation. You put off the confrontation because you haven’t organized your thoughts into what’s most important to share.
  • Fresh ideas on a recurring task/service/product/meeting. You know it’s getting stale, but without time to think about how it can be different for your internal/external customers, same-old/same-old continues.
  • Goals for the next quarter. To make the next 90 days better than the last 90 days, you will have to stretch yourself (and team) to new habits/heights, best formulated by getting away from the normal routine, to evaluate options.

Returning from thinking time is often invigorating! Rush to a computer and type up your reflections to capture them, or tell a colleague or friend about what you are processing–to refine those ideas.

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