Set Time in Your Day for Thinking
There is a statement I often hear expressed in various forms. “We need to think of a way to correct that.” The variations runs from “we need to think of a way to build sales” or “we need to think about changing the website.” My questions is, why is time never set aside to do that thinking?
The ability to think is undoubtedly the best tool for improvement at our disposal. We’d still be huddled in caves if no one did any thinking. I doubt anyone would disagree with that so why is the suggestion to spend time thinking met with such disdain? No time? That’s what I hear most often, “I just don’t have time to sit around contemplating my navel.”
Seems to me we are losing our ability to think rationally just as we lose our ability to think creatively. Too much work for our brains is shoved at us. According to studies, we only see, hear or register between 1% and 10% of the data coming at us. Filtering the mental spam is a big task.
I’ll agree that you are busy. I’ll agree that you feel too busy to think. But that’s just a feeling and not the reality. We can compare this paradox to jumping from a sinking ship. There would certainly be a lot going on under those circumstances. It would be foolish, however, to say, “I’m too busy to swim.”
Thinking is highly energizing. I gives your system a boost. A good idea will lift your spirits.
How can we start thinking?
Turn off the noise. You may have to go for a walk. Leave the phone and music behind.
Don’t try to solve the world’s problems in a 10 minute walk. Start by letting your mind wander. Let it jump around. It is known that when conscious thinking starts, our brains begin thinking about the obvious and easiest stuff. What? Worried about getting that report out on time? No big idea for the SWOT slide? Need something to make sure the meeting doesn’t drift into that subject? These are the obvious. They are near the surface. We want to go deeper, past worry and down into productive thinking.
Most people stop thinking after a few minutes of wrestling with the surface issues. We feel too stressed to think deeply when the flood gates of the daily problems opens. We feel a need to “check out.”
To get past that level, try this. Pick 2 or 3 words at random. Look around and select from the palette in front of you.
Like this. Car, bird, green. What can I do with those words? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a green flying car? It would be interesting to see a bird driving a green car.
Play around with that. You’ll find it amusing and oddly refreshing as you force your mind off of your problems. You’ll notice that once you create beyond the first few phrases, your ideas will get more complex and more interesting. Keep going.
Now let’s look at a specific problem. I need something for that SWOT slide. One big problem is sales. The team missed the goals and you’re going to have to answer to that. Humm. Bird, car, green. Sales.
Can you put a suggestion together for improving sales from those words? If sales soar [like a bird], you’ll make lots of green and we’ll lease a car for the top seller. Or—hit the road! Make lots of sales and the company will fly you [bird] to Hawaii for a week [green]. Or, let’s try something new. Select your best prospect, hop in the car and get them out in the fresh air [bird] and play golf [green].
It’ time to get back to work. That golf idea has some merit. I’m going to think about that. It’s not expensive, the team will like it and it just might work. I need to think about it a little more. I’ll need to set some guidelines. Still, the core idea is good.
One problem at a time.
You won’t get a brilliant idea every time, but you will develop your thinking. If you don’t an idea, you will still feel refreshed and excited to tackle the world.
Chris Reich, TeachU