As a busy CEO, you likely don’t have a lot of time to sit and do nothing but think. But you should.
Entrepreneurs tend to value doing above contemplating. But this kind of thinking will help you with your doing.
The Value of Thinking Time
When you’re busy with activity, certain parts of your brain are engaged. You’re following a get-to-do list. You’re directing multiple people. You’re juggling a hive of activity.
In the midst of all that, it’s hard to allow new perspectives in.
That’s what thinking time is for. To let your mind wander, pulling different experiences and knowledge from your memory, and integrating them.
These Top CEOs Do It
When you commit to thinking time, you would not be alone. Warren Buffett isn’t as busy as you are. One of the wealthiest people in the world, he estimates that he spend 80% of his time reading and thinking.
Brian Scudamore, CEO of $250+ million O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) Brands, sets aside all of Monday just to think. He describes leadership as surgery, aiming to have maximum impact with minimum intervention. So he no longer feels that putting in long hours means more effectiveness.
5 Ways to Incorporate Thinking Time
How do you start to make this happen on a regular basis? Here are 5 ideas:
- Schedule it in. You can actually schedule this time into your calendar, to make sure that you take it. That’s what Bill Gates does, taking a week off twice a year just for deep reflection.
- Cut out interruptions. Avoid your office, where you’re likely to be disturbed. Move around as you stall in your thinking, to keep from getting stuck.
- Write your ideas down. As you have ideas, write them down. Riff on them further, to help develop them. You can even come up with ideas just by starting to write, journal-fashion. Add drawings and diagrams if you’re visual. This thinking time can be a great source of creative ideas.
- Plan your week. You can use your thinking time to giving deep thought to how you are spending your time in the coming days. What actions are truly a priority for you? Pare down your list as you realize that what seemed important no longer is.
- Pose powerful questions. Your thinking can get a boost by posing strategic questions. What’s most important right now? What am I great at? How can I spend more time doing those things? If I were an outsider from another industry, how would I solve this pressing problem?
Taking time to think when there’s work to be done can feel like a luxury. It’s not. You don’t have to be busy with activity all the time to be adding value. Thinking time allows you to respond to emerging and evolving situations.
The successful CEOs who make it a part of their schedules are a testament to time well spent thinking. It’s an opportunity to increase both your company’s revenue and your impact.
Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact.