In the age of knowledge work, we are all paid to think — to evaluate solution-paths and solve problems creatively. Yet, we get busy doing and fail to devote part of our days for deep thinking.
In today’s workplace, we all have too much to do in too little time with too few resources at hand. This faster pace of work-life coupled with the emphasis on getting things done has come to accentuate busyness. The result is that we lack a sense of control of our time. We do not take the time out to think and plan.
The Tragedy of Our Times
If I had eight hours to chop a tree,
I would spend six hours sharpening my axe.
With the world of work getting more complex and difficult, and with the demands of people, cell phones, BlackBerrys or just too much communication, having the quiet and time to sort things out and figure what to do is fast disappearing. We have become a world of reactors, not thinkers, at a time when good thinking is so desperately needed.
Most of us don’t spend time thinking. We are so busy doing that we have almost forgotten how to think. Yet it is our thinking, more than any other single activity, that influences our outcomes.
The problems we face will not likely be solved by working harder. New gadgets won’t really help either. In fact, I sometimes fear that our many gadgets have only added unnecessary clutter to our lives. What we need is better, more profound thinking.
Call for Action: Book Frequent Quiet-Time
Thinking requires a great deal of time and energy. With frequent interruptions and distractions, dedicating time for deep thinking or intense work can be very challenging. Schedule frequent quiet-times into your day.
During each quiet-time session, completely shut yourself off from your colleagues, from e-mail, phone calls and other distractions. Use this time to focus on challenging or highly-priority tasks. Reserve a conference room in your facility, arrive early at work or work at your local library. Even brief periods of dedicated thinking or work can make your day vastly productive.
In addition to booking frequent quiet time, assess time- and energy-wasters. Filter incoming information, delegate effectively, automate routine tasks, fight-off distractions and frequent interruptions from your colleagues, and, be selective in what meetings you attend.