Many of us have very busy lives and often long lists of things to get done. I sometimes hear people say “I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom.” I start at 5 am and sometimes don’t get home until 11 at night. I find myself running in several directions throughout the day. When I do get some down time I often feel guilty that I should be doing more or being more productive. There are also times when I become so completely overwhelmed that my mind freezes on what I need to do next.
A good way to avoid becoming overloaded and to gain perspective and clarity is to allot time to just think. When you allow yourself time to intentionally think, you allow chaos and drama to decrease, your brain to get back on track and your creative strategies to start forming. This doesn’t happen right away. It takes time and discipline to train your mind. You may be distracted and flooded at first by issues that occurred during the week or even past experiences. These intrusive thoughts should subside after a while as you keep setting your intentions on creative thinking.
Intentional thinking doesn’t have to be in a meditative state or trance. You can think while sitting or walking around. There may be certain places that inspire positive and productive thoughts. There also could be books, lectures, songs or actions that motivate creative thinking. You have to figure out what or where it is that stimulates this type of thinking. You also may have to remove yourself from certain locations as they can be distracting or even toxic.
One major reason for taking the time to think is to enhance your most important tool which is your creative mind. Stephen Covey calls it sharpening the saw. A quote from Abraham Lincoln that illustrates this well is, ”Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Taking time to collect your thoughts and thinking creatively and strategically could enhance productivity during the week. This is especially true when it comes to big meetings, projects or other major decisions.
It is said that Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor and CEO, has spent 80 percent of his career reading and thinking. Some strategist take a few hours during the week while others devote a whole day to thinking. Within those hours or days they break it down to intentionally focusing on certain subjects or tasks including prioritizing what needs to get done, planning meetings or interactions, or just visualizing the big picture. Another strategy is having a pad and paper with you during your thinking time in order to jot down the ideas or whatever comes up.
So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just need to plan, consider taking some time to think. Figure out a way that you will not be distracted by anyone else or anything. Be prepared with something to write the ideas on. It is not recommended that you use your phone or electronic device as they themselves can be distracting and set you off course. You can transfer any ideas or thoughts that come up on your electronic device at another time. Taking time for yourself is time investing in your success.