How much time do you spend thinking? It’s kind of an odd question and it’s one you may not have “thought” about much. Certainly, if you’re like most people, you have a constant flow of thoughts, ideas, responsibilities, worries and the like racing through your mind at all times. This is not at all what I’m referring to. I’m referring to time spent by yourself in quiet, reflective, and deliberate thought.
I have started to become more aware of my “thinking” as I have been writing more. The more I write, the more time I find I have to first spend thinking. It actually has become my favorite part of writing- an opportunity to let my mind wander in any direction. Even in writing this simple blog post, I took three or four times the amount of time thinking about it, then I did in the actual amount of time writing it. I have also been adding more “thinking time” into my businesses. I am finding I am able to make better decisions and see more opportunities than I did when I was constantly busy multi-tasking.
Time spent thinking, with no boundaries or parameters opens up the mind to new possibilities. When our minds are cluttered with an active to-do list of things, we crowd out the creative side of ourselves. By actually allowing ourselves to think freely, we break away from limited thinking. New ideas, perspectives, possibilities are able to flow to the top. Almost magically, new solutions present themselves once our mind is freed to simply think and reflect. Sometimes we can try to think of a solution to a problem logically for hours on end, but when we finally let go and let our mind wander, inspiration can strike seemingly out of the blue.
All Minds that wander are not lost.
In recent years, numerous business executives have gone on record about how essential thinking time is. Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and arguably the savviest investors of our time, estimates he has spent 80% of his time reading and thinking. His partner, Charles Munger, says that’s how Warren created such a great business— “he had a lot of time to think about it”.
Mr. Buffet is not alone. Many other great business leaders spend many hours just thinking. In fact, many of them set side time in their schedules for nothing but thinking. Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-got-junk, often spends his Mondays wondering around his home town of Vancouver. He meanders through coffee shops, sits on a park bench, walks in the forest or heads to the beach. This day of thinking sets himself up for a productive week ahead.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of two fortune 500 companies, Square and Twitter is famous for wandering around, lost in thought. Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, was known for taking two weeks a year of to think. Tim Armstrong CEO of AOL makes himself and his executive team commit to four hours a week of just thinking time. In fact, a recent study of CEO’s revealed a majority of them spend 20% of their time alone- much of it in thought.
Here’s what I want you to take away from this:
Time spent doing nothing but being alone and thinking is time well spent.
Here are a few suggestions to help you implement this. Schedule thinking time right into your calendar, be it one day a week or just a few hours a day. Make it a habit and stick with it. Get yourself out of your office or home and venture out to new locations and place. Like many CEO’s you’ll likely find it a wonderful source of creative inspiration.