Scheduling time to think, sounds easy, doesn’t it?
I recently had a conversation with a friend who was feeling overwhelmed at work, she asked me what advice I had for her. First question: “How often do you schedule time to think?” Her response was “NEVER”, followed by “I really should”.
I ask my clients about key takeaways from our time together. “Scheduling time to think” is consistently in the top 3. Coaching invites clients to take the space and time to reflect, to unplug from devices and focus in on their agenda. You can gain similar benefits in doing the same for yourself, but you need to be disciplined. Here are 5 best practices.
Be disciplined. At minimum, schedule 30 minutes twice per week. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons work well for many. Set that time as distraction free. One client recently shared that she walks to her local coffee shop for her thinking time. The physical walk, hearing birds sing, feeling the air temperature and the aroma of the coffee bring her into the moment to alleviate her busy mind and think about what’s important. Friday afternoon time is free from distractions and is focused on what’s been accomplished.
Be strategic. There is no shortage of urgent priorities. We could fill our day with fire drills, what about our “not urgent, priorities”? Those important strategic or team priorities that keep getting pushed to the following week, until they become urgent and rushed. Use your thinking time to get ahead of the curve, shift from reactive to proactive on what matters most.
Be a Role model. As leader, do your behaviours align with your values and what you expect of others? Culture cascades from the top. Whether we like to admit it or not, others watch our actions. Thinking time helps us prepare, prioritize, focus, and plan. Think about the leader you aspire to be, be the inspiration to those around you.
Be resilient. I found myself quoting Wayne Dyer a couple of times this week “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. What perspectives are you aligned in firefighting mode, where everything is urgent and a priority? Scheduling thinking time is an opportunity for some clean head space, use it to explore different perspectives to innovate in driving results and solving problems.
Acknowledge. We tend to focus on our problems, our perceived failures and overall, not measuring up. Take this precious time to consider what is working, what you and others are accomplishing. Write it down, keep a journal of the wins, (actions and behaviours). Take some of those wins and offer up positive recognition and appreciation to others. Notice your mindset shift.
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”