Before You Do – Think!

Think – /THiNGk/ verb – To direct one’s mind toward someone or something; use one’s mind actively to form connected ideas.

Laptop closed; iPad shut down; smartphone lying face down on my desk. Blank sheet of paper; pen in hand. It’s time to think; to write; to plan and even dream. It’s time to shut out the noise; turn off the devices; ignore the emails for a moment and do something rare – THINK.

This has become “my word” for the year, and I plan to use it often because, it seems to me, we take very little time to think as we hurry through our work day.  Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” 

These days it’s easy to feel really busy. There are emails to answer all day long. My smartphone is always chirping with something important. Then there are the news feeds I follow, and, of course, I have to pay attention to Facebook and LinkedIn in case someone likes a photo or wants to connect.

My question is, are all these connections helping us accomplish more or are they just distractions that hinder us from really accomplishing what we could?

You may give a cursory attempt at planning your day, but, generally speaking, your day will plan you. It may feel busy but if you stop to ask yourself, “Am I really working on the most important things?” the answer may be a resounding “NO.”

So, what are the most important things? Did you know that Warren Buffet reports that he spends 80% of his time thinking? “That’s what created [one of the] world’s most successful business records in history. He has a lot of time to think,” Charlie Munger, Buffett’s long-time business partner, said of his unusual approach to productivity.

AOL’s CEO, Tim Armstrong requests that his executives spend 10% of their time thinking – That’s 4 hours a week. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, schedules two hours a day to think.

If you can’t find time to think, it probably means that you haven’t organized your company or team very well, and you are busy putting out fires daily. It also means that you are at risk of leading your company down the wrong path. In my work life I’m starting my day by – THINKing first and writing down those thoughts as I plan my day. ALL of this BEFORE I ever open my laptop or the first email.

As a manager in a small communications company, setting aside time to think and plan is critical to “moving the ball forward” instead of doing what I’ve always done and hoping something changes.

In addition, I’m considering creating themes for different days of the week. This approach allows you to have focused time on a particular subject or need. If interruptions occur, as they always do, you can still stay on track because it’s “Prospecting Day” or “Product Development Day” or “Meeting Day.”

A CEO named Jack Dorsey was, at one time, running Twitter and Square (a company he founded) at the same time.  He themed his days of the week to stay focused. None of this is “rocket surgery,” it’s just plain common sense. So, when was the last time you scheduled some time to THINK?

Tim Bryant is the VP of Sales Development for The Daniels Group in Asheville, NC. The Daniels Group is a communications company with the tools and knowledge to help you grow your business.