One of the most amazing practices to keep you and your team moving forward is thinking time. It’s the 30-60 minutes you take to just think about your team. It’s your time to answer questions to help overcome the challenges you are experiencing and find solutions to problems you are seeing. How do you do this? Let’s start by answering some questions.
When are you most productive? Some people are on fire first thing in the morning; others are just getting revved up by late evening. You want to harness the time when you are most productive for the big-picture, strategic, hard thinking.
What day works in your schedule? You could choose to start the week with thinking time, early on a Monday morning before the action starts. Or you could wrap up the week with it, blocking an hour late on Friday afternoon. Or you could take a time out in the middle, pulling out of the weeds late on a quiet Wednesday evening.
Block your calendar with a recurring event. What do you need to do to protect your time? Set a recurring event — and respect it like you would respect a meeting with your CEO or your child’s doctor’s appointment.
Lock in accountability. Thinking time can be easy to blow off when things are blowing up. Set up an agreement with a peer or friend (or your coach) to check in about how you are prioritizing this over time.
First write the question and then the dot. Plan the 1-3 questions you want to think about in advance and write these in a notebook. Under each question, place a dot for a bullet point. By each dot, write your UNCENSORED ideas. Once this is done, you need another dot so your mind will continue to think of solutions.
Accept that each problem you wrote down is a symptom. It’s not the real problem but a symptom of something else.
Spend 15 minutes thinking about what the root cause might be for one of your problems. What is it that generates the symptoms? This is about becoming more strategic than tactical.
Keep questioning every assumption that comes up until you can’t anymore. That’s probably what the real problem is. You need to keep asking “why” until you understand these root causes.
What can you do to address the real problem? List some possible answers. When you think about this, the first third of your answers will be obvious. The second third of your answers are a bit better. However - the real magic happens in the final third (this is paraphrased from Keith Cunningham who you may know as “Rich Dad”). If you are looking for more detailed information on Keith please click here. He has several lists for Thinking Time Questions that might be useful as well as a podcast and YouTube Channel.