Most great ideas were not thought up sitting in the loving glow of a computer monitor, talking on a cell phone or checking in on a blackberry. Taking time to think leads to new ideas, boosted productivity, solutions to problems and a better outlook. So are you thinking enough?
Thinking is what people do. We think about what we’ll make for dinner, how we’re going to tackle that upcoming presentation and what we’re going to wear for work. But how often do you really think? Probably a lot less often than you think — no pun intended.
Thinking is more than just making a decision. It’s a way to recharge your batteries, relax, come back refreshed and possibly think up a new idea. And just because you’re taking a break, doesn’t mean you’re not working hard.
Google has taken thinking to a whole new level. Employees are encouraged to set aside thinking time during their workday. Over half of Google’s new gadgets were thought up by employees on their free-thinking time.
Leonardo Da Vinci was known to have a cot in his studio so he could take breaks from painting. He said if he didn’t, the work just wouldn’t get done.
Here are 5 ways to fit thinking into your busy day:
- Schedule it. If you’re someone who sticks to a strict schedule, pencil yourself in. It will help you to prepare for, and recoup from, your other tasks and meetings. Scheduling a time to meditate or do Yoga is always an option, but taking a walk or just sitting in a nice spot with a cup of tea counts too.
- Use travel time and everyday tasks. A long commute to work, business trip travel or even a jog or walk can give you time to sit and think. Try not to dwell on the work that you’ll have to do at the end of your travel, rather think about things that inspire you. Thinking while doing everyday tasks are also great times to think. A recent survey asked participants where they thought the best: in the shower or bath, shaving and gardening. Doing tasks that you do everyday probably don’t require much conscious thought, so why not let your mind wander?
- Don’t eat at your desk. About 80% of people who took a recent survey admitted to eating lunch at their desk on a regular basis. Not only is it unhealthy — a desk has 100 times more germs than a kitchen table — it’s also bad for productivity. Get some fresh air, go to lunch with co-workers or do something you enjoy doing that will break-up your day. Just because you’re not sitting quietly in the lotus position doesn’t mean you’re not thinking.
- Have meaningful discussions. Gossip doesn’t count, but a good discussion with someone who has an opposing viewpoint does. Having to explain your point-of-view, and having another person respond, is a great way to kick your mind into overdrive and get the creative juices flowing. Thinking on your feet will help train your mind to figure things out differently, making problem solving easier. Just be careful a friendly discussion doesn’t turn into an argument.
- Do something you enjoy. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, doing something you enjoy gives you a mental release. If you’re not doing anything that you enjoy during the day, you probably will have a hard time focusing at work. Take a walk, read a book or listen to music. It will give your mind a break and free you to think about something other than your next deadline.
When you set time aside for thinking, it doesn’t mean you have to think great thoughts. And it won’t come easily at first. The tendency will be to focus on a problem to solve, but try letting your mind wander. You may be surprised what comes up.
Have a favorite place or activity that helps you think? Share it in the comments section below.