Do you find that you are so busy that you have little or no time to even think about goals and priorities and where you are heading? Many of us used to have plenty of thinking time while we were waiting in a doctor’s office or going for our morning walk or sitting on a bench in the shopping mall while our spouse went shopping or whatever. Now our smartphones and iPads have taken over any such spare moments. I think it’s essential that we allocate time each week for planning and creativity by actually scheduling blocks of time in our planners – perhaps an hour or two every week – so we can review our goals and plans for that week and think about the future.
Thinking time allows us to prioritize and decide what to do and what not to do. You should simplify your life. That means getting rid of the trivia. Time management is not doing more things in less time, which technology encourages. It is doing fewer things – things of greater importance, in the time that we have. It’s not doing more things; it’s doing more important things. And this involves looking at the stuff in your life – possessions, activities, and “To Do” items with a view to eliminating or reducing those that have little meaning to you or to the significant people in your life.
For the “thinking” process, I recommend:
1. That you schedule time to think and plan. Probably 1 to 2 hours each week -perhaps a half hour each day – and also a full day or more each year.
2. Control technology; don’t let it control you. Turn off your BlackBerry or smart phone when you are in meetings, driving, or working on scheduled priority tasks.
3. Don’t feel you have to toss out your paper planner, index cards or scratch pad. High-tech and high-touch go hand in hand, and many a great idea has emerged while doodling on a napkin.
4. Keep all the ideas jotted down during the thinking process. Ideas rejected may suddenly take on a life of their own.
5. Keep reading in areas of interest far afield from your own. Ideas tend to cross-pollinate, and you could come up with a novel idea that you would not have thought of otherwise.
6. Look at thinking time as fun time. Put your left brain in idle and go with the flow. There is no such thing as a bad idea – only unworkable ones. Evaluation can come later.
Keep an idea book, or a place where you can jot down ideas at any time, not just during your scheduled thinking time. I have a `Back Burner ‘page at the back of my Taylor Planner for this purpose – for spontaneous thoughts and ideas that could be explored later. This could serve as your starting agenda for your next creative thinking session.