You know those weeks that feel a year long and like you have no time to think? This was one of those weeks.
It also made me realize the importance of making time to think.
When managing your time and planning a schedule, including time for margin is essential. Things will take longer than you think, and margin allows you to have enough time for the unexpected to still accomplish what you need to accomplish. But most of us plan just enough margin to cover enough space to get everything done.
Planning for sleep, rest and recreation is also essential. We were wired to need downtime to recharge and relax. Unfortunately, this is often the first time to go when things get crazy.
But do you plan for time to think?
In business and in life, setting aside dedicated time to think, plan, and strategize is critical to not becoming stagnant or ending up on a hamster wheel you never planned for.
“Because we’ve always done it” is not a good enough reason to keep doing something – in work or in life.
I’m in the middle of reading Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s new book, Living Forward, which is all about life planning. They advocate setting aside an entire day to create your life plan. While I have yet to set aside time for my life planning day, I have (and frankly, a whole day does feel rather daunting with my current schedule – although Hyatt and Harkavy give counter-arguments to the most common time excuses people give to not dedicating)
In our always on culture, I realized that I very very rarely have time with no input and noise (again, see: two preschoolers). In order to create time to think, it is essential to find ways to silence the noise and create time and space to think.
Three ways to silence the noise and create time to think
- Turn off the radio/podcast/music. This week, I’ve started turning off the radio/podcast/music while commuting. It may only be 10-15 minutes once or twice a day, but the first few times felt weird. I’m slowly growing used to using that time to think through whatever is pressing on my mind rather than continuing to input more and more information.
- Go for a walk (or a run). Again, with no noise input. Look around you. We’ve got a rare Northwest sunny spring day today, and I’ve got some time blocked off in my calendar to head outside solo.
- Block time on your calendar and find a quiet room. For some this is much easier than others. Once you’ve blocked the time, protect it as if it is an essential meeting, because it is. I fully get how hard to find space it is if you work in a crowded office or are home with small children. Get creative. I’ve heard of people who get up in the middle of the night for a time to have that space. Can you put classical music or white noise on headphones and create alone space while still with people?
I’ve been amazed at what has come to mind simply by giving myself the space. Some lighthearted, some serious, some things to adjust my plans and some simple “a ha” moments.
When and where do you create space to think?