After coming back from a long weekend out of town, Monday morning hit with overwhelming thoughts of "I have so much to do and I do not know where to start!" I stared at my computer wondering, "What first?" and dreading it all.
What did I do? I pulled out my running shoes and took off. Yes, I went into avoidance mode.
But what was a designed to be a cop-out, ended up being a way for me to think through my work, generate ideas, and focus attention. My quiet run gave me the time to brainstorm questions and go through pros and cons of question wording for a client's organizational survey I needed to complete, think through not one, but three blog posts (including this one that came to me while on the run!), contemplate how to grab people's attention with a presentation I am giving in Biloxi next month, and take some time to actually enjoy an utterly gorgeous hint-of-fall morning.
When I got back, I got all of these things done, and actually enjoyed doing all of them.
When people are busy, and lets face it, who's not, finding time to think seems to be last on the priority list. But when we take the time to get in a place where we can put our thinking caps on, we end up conserving our time because we are more focused when we get down to the business of getting stuff done.
Here are some ideas for thinking time:
1. GET OUTSIDE alone and walk or run your way to thinking.
2. CHANGE YOUR SCENERY. Go to a library, or coffee house, book store and sit.
3. SCHEDULE THINKING CAP SESSIONS. Schedule a regular lunch or coffee time with someone who stimulates your thinking. Bounce ideas off them.
4. UNPLUG. If you don't have the chance to get outside or out of the office, at least shut your email program and phone down for at least half a day at a time.
5. CHUNK YOUR TIME. Try to schedule meetings in a way that they don't chop up your day. Schedule time back to back at the beginning or end of the day so you have the full morning or the afternoon to think and focus your attention.
You may also like to read about Mindfulness at Work.
What other ideas do you have for focusing your attention?