Thinking is hard work. Seriously. It is almost as hard as actually finding the time to think.
Here are some tips to help protect your quality thinking time:
- Schedule time to think. If it isn’t on your calendar, it probably won’t get done.
- Prepare your “thinking space” beforehand. Need pencil and paper to jot ideas down? Make sure it is handy. Need coffee or tea to help ground you? Get it ready before you sit down. Need a comfortable spot to sit? Make sure it is free in advance. Distracted by clutter? Make sure you pick up items that might distract you and put them away before you sit. Need soothing music? Have it ready to go before you get started.
- Eliminate distractions. During this time, turn off all distractions-email alerts, your phone ringer, etc., so that you can focus on the issue at hand.
- Prioritize your thinking. Figure out what it is that you need to figure out, and then commit to staying on that topic for your scheduled amount of time. No chasing rabbits down rabbit holes.
- Take breaks when necessary. If you feel yourself getting bogged down, or going in circles, stop and take a quick break to refocus. Take a walk outside, grab a snack, get a refill of coffee. Then come back and tackle the issue from a different angle.