We need more time to think

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This week it is clear that summer holidays are over and people are back at work in earnest, and if I heard it once I heard it countless times, “I am so busy”. This is worrying when we are yet to complete the week. What is even more interesting is the number of people who said something along the lines of “one of the things I really enjoyed over the break was I had time to think, I wish I had time more to think at work.”

Time to think is an essential leadership quality; however it seems we are becoming increasingly addicted to busyness. Here are a few of my observations that may provide insights to allow you to assess the extent of your addiction to busyness.

  • Your phone or tablet is beside your bed each night.
  • Your last action at night and your first action when you wake up is to check your email.
  • You are on a plane and the minute it lands you switch from flight mode and check your email, messages (and probably Facebook).
  • You are heating a meal in a microwave and you check your phone.
  • You pride yourself by just making it to the airport lounge as the flight is boarding.
  • Everyone except you has control of your diary.

These are just a few, there many more “tell-tale” indicators. So what can you do as a leader to find more time to think? Many people would suggest some form of mindfulness practice. This will assist however, while valuable, most of these techniques are designed to slow you down not necessarily give you time to think.

Here are a couple of other options you might want to consider.

  • Get control of technology. Set some hard and fast rules and stick by them:
    • Turn off the email notification on your tablet and phone.
    • Set times during the day to check emails and messages.
    • Ban phones and tablets from your bedroom.
    • Allocate times during the day when you put your phone to silent.
    • Try using something like Rescue Time https://www.rescuetime.com to understand your daily habits and where time is spent.
  • Set priorities. At one stage a retired Naval Commander moved next door and we talked on this very subject of having time to think. The advice he shared as a leader was set your top ten priorities every day; aim to delegate half of them to others and if you get the top 3 priorities on your list completed that is a happy day. He said if he did not take this approach he had no time to think.
  • Work with your natural rhythm. Know the times of the day when you do your best thinking and schedule or ‘ring fence’ this time e.g. your daily commute – make your car a phone ‘dead zone’ by turning your phone off.
  • Be willing to say no to requests when time is needed to think through an issue.
  • Be realistic. We are all guilty of taking on more than we have time to do.
  • Diarise breaks at times when you need thinking time.

I hope this has given you further food for thought.

Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.