It’s the end of the day, and you’re beat. You’ve been “on the go” since 7 a.m. and you’re ready to call it a day. Most of your days seem to go this way. Then, a coach like me, asks where you’ve built time into your weekly schedule for “strategic thinking/planning time”.
When I ask my clients this question, I get predictable responses – everything from a look of “you’ve got to be kidding” to a question like, “Really? It’s OK to spend my time doing that?” I take the responses as a symptom of American culture that preaches “to be busy” equals “to be productive”. But the higher up the corporate food chain you go, the less time you should spend on “being busy” and the more time you can and should spend on thinking. Insufficient time spent thinking about your business can lessen the quality of the decisions you make about it.
The basis of good solid thinking goes back 2500 years to Socrates in Ancient Greece. His method involved asking deep questions and probing for answers before accepting an idea of as worthy of belief. Fast forward to our experiences today, where we spend hours on activities that are quick, immediate, and/or passively mindless, like texting, watching TV, spending time online updating our status, or engaging in various other forms of pure entertainment. (I’m also guilty as charged.) No wonder we find it hard to believe that we ought to spend time engaging our minds in a deep, intellectual pursuit.
“Thinking time” doesn’t have to be spent alone in a locked office working on your company or department’s strategic plan (although that could be very productive). It can be time you spend walking around a competitor’s retail store, observing how they operate. It can be lunch in a nearby park, observing the comings and goings of local flora, fauna, and people, which may lead to serendipitous connections later on. You can walk around your own corporate office, retail store, or manufacturing/shipping facility to observe what’s going on. Would you rather think in tandem with others? Invite someone out to have a beverage and conversation. You can even spend your commute time thinking. Whatever will afford you time for meaningful introspection and reflection is the type of thinking activity that will be beneficial.
The point is that your “thinking time” will provide you with information when you need it later on. From observations, come connections, and the more connections you make, the better prepared your mind is to draw upon seemingly unrelated information and events that might just provide you with brilliant insight applicable to your business just when you need it.
Recommended ReadingThe Thinking Life, P.M. Forni