Never mind the title of this post. I want to ask a better question. "Do you think?"
It sounds like a stupid question, but I want you to really think about whether or not you think very often. Especially when you're at work. I'm not suggesting that you're not busy. Or productive. Or reacting all the time. But between emails, texts, phone calls, meetings, bumping into people, solving the crisis of the moment, reading my blog, and whatever else comes up during a typical day, do you actually spend time in thought?
Let's first put some parameters around the work "think." For the sake of this discussion, let's say that in order to think you have to hold a single thread in your mind for a sufficient duration to process, reflect, plan, and digest the information you're mulling. So it's not just having your brain active. It's actually having an extended session with a notion and turning it upside down and inside out. THAT kind of thinking!
If we set that high water mark for thinking, when's the last time you really spent time thinking?
If you are, as I suspect, like most of us, the answer is that you probably don't think as much as you'd like or should. To meaningfully increase your thinking time, it's going to take some effort.
I'll propose reducing this down to three pillars of actual thinking:
If you put "Thinking Time" on your weekly calendar, you'd treat it as something sacred. You'd likely turn off your phone. Maybe close your door. Go for a walk. Shut down your computer. Creating intentional time for thinking would require effort and thoughtfulness. Lest you think this about taking a whole afternoon off for something else "luxurious," that's not what I'm intending. If you even had 30 minutes during a day set aside for actual thinking, it's possible it's 30 minutes more than if you hadn't scheduled it.
Thinking might require diversion. Sitting in your office or at your desk and then announcing to yourself that it's time to think might not cut it. Do you need sunshine? Fresh air? Private or public space? I tend to do my best thinking in public like at a coffee shop. I think best when it's busy around me. So if I'm going to write or really think, I often need to be anywhere other than the quiet of my office.
It pays to think about what you're going to think about. What big question have you been nibbling at the edges of? What is the thing you've wanted to think about but haven't made the time or space for? Entering into a thinkful space is best served by some pre-thinking.
I applaud you for thinking about thinking or even recognizing the degree to which you perhaps don't think much. I'd love to hear what practices you employ to ensure your brilliant mind has room to be awesome. Share your "thinks" with us!
- Nate Eklund