In our busy lives there is rarely spare time to stop and think. I mean really think deeply about your business and life. If you wait until there is nothing to do, you will never have thinking time. Perhaps a business closure due to Covid restrictions may force you to stop and think more deeply about your business. But that is reactionary and much to do with survival or maximising opportunities during a crisis.
The art of thinking is being lost in our busy world. We make decisions on the run and hope they lead to good results. What I am advocating requires discipline and perhaps learning some new skills.
The practice of regular thinking time
In my business I schedule 30 minutes each week (usually on a Friday morning) and an hour each month (around the 28th) to review my progress and my actions. This time is made more productive because of my Quarterly Planning Process. On the 3rd Thursday of March, June, September, and December I schedule 2 – 3 hours to ensure my action plan for the next Quarter is strongly leading me to achieve my goals for the year. To maximise your business and personal productivity this is the minimum thinking time a business owner needs. Since I have been following this process, I am much more productive (at least 20%) and much more confident I am going to achieve my goals each year.
Healthy reflection is an important use of thinking time In addition to the process outlined above there is also a need to make time for reflection. I have found a way to make this productive. I created a list of questions (see picture) that assist me to focus my thinking. Each quarter I make sure I use these questions. Every time I go over them, I am amazed at their power to help me not only review my business activity, but also to become more self-aware. In the busyness of everyday life, I find it is easy to fall into unproductive habits. My tendency is to do what is comfortable and avoid some challenges, and this process keeps me switched on to my own procrastination strategies.
The summary box at the bottom is a very helpful summary which then helps me review my Quarterly Plan.
Creative thinking time
Another type of thinking time is also needed to have a thriving business longer term. We all need time to be creative. To think outside the box. To come up with new ways of doing things. To work through obstacles and find solutions to problems that have been roadblocks. Or to come up with a totally new offering for your business or even a new business idea. I find my mind works best to solve problems when I am in my garden. I’m doing menial tasks and enjoying the space and in the midst of that often answers come to me. I then need to write them down in words and pictures to bring them to a kind of state in which I can share them or act on them. Personally, I find writing with a pen and paper (my little ideas book) is the best way to be creative. Somehow the computer is full of other distractions that get in the way of creativity. My workspace is not my best creative space. Walt Disney found this too. Some people have a thinking chair. Or like me cultivate new ideas in the garden.
When do you make time to think?
Lots of people have new ideas in the shower. Water on your body creates a mindfulness exercise that releases your brain to think in fresh ways. I encourage you to create spaces in your calendar and physical spaces in your life, which allow you to make time to think. Turn off the phone and the computer and get away from people and think more deeply about your business and your life. You will be glad you did.