Make time for THINKING TIME!
The phrase ‘Think Time’ has come up in many of the books I’ve been reading. I first came across it in the book, Deep Work by Cal Newport. It came up again in The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business and again in Radical Candor by Kim Scott.
It was in January 2018 when I first read Deep Work, and I wrote the blog, How is Digital Media Distracting You?
It was after reading that book that I began to really pay close attention to how I was using my time…when I was picking up my phone…how I was using my digital devices to occupy brain time.
It was also at this time that I began to guard and nurture my ‘think time.’
Last year, after writing the above blog post…I put the following practices into place…here’s an excerpt from that post:
Here are a few of the practices I have put into place to allow my mind to start to concentrate on more important things in my personal life and get my mind back to deep periods of focus in my business:
No more digital devices after my work day ends. I put my phone away and have turned off all my notifications except text on my Apple Watch.
(I am a mother and grandmother, and my kids talk to me a lot via text.)
I have learned to turn my digital devices off or move away from them when working on projects that require deep thinking; allowing myself to concentrate and focus. I use Fridays as my ‘Friday Planning Day’.
It’s my day to work on my business; dig deep in writing or projects with no digital disruptions. I now make time for deep thinking and development, and I do it free from as many distractions as possible.
I welcome the feeling of boredom. In other words, I try to not fill every spare moment with the Internet. Sitting at a red light, waiting on someone, or standing in line…instead of pulling my phone out, I try to use the time to think about things. It’s during those down times that our brain comes up with creative ways to make things happen.
You might wonder how I’ve done over the last 14-months with those practices I put in place.
Turning off my notifications didn’t work out so well. I felt like I was missing important information from people I care about, as well as my clients. Instead, I made the choice to turn them back on but still put my phone away. Out of sight, out of mind.
This allows me to catch up quickly when I retrieve my phone, therefore taking me less time to go hunt and find things I need or want to see. It also cuts down on the time I spend on my phone.
OUTCOME: Made some modifications, but this is still working well for me. It also cuts down on the time I spend on my phone and social media.
MOVE AWAY FROM DIGITAL DEVICES
I am doing well with this one. A year of really paying attention to my reading, special projects, brainstorming, and creative times (without any digital devices to distract me) has helped me exercise my brain better. The less distractions I have…the better and more intense my focus.
I don’t keep my phone with me when I read anymore…If I want to share a picture on my Instagram page from a book I’m reading, I simply make time afterwards to do it…not during.
I recently had a new client, and their team calls were on Friday – this came in direct conflict with my Friday Planning Day…this was a short-term project, so I worked around it. But it did affect my focus. While these types of instances will come up, this taught me to guard those Friday’s and not allow day to day work to impose on them.
OUTCOME: The less distractions I have…the better and more intense my focus has been.
I still struggle a bit with this one. It’s a habit to whip out my phone when I don’t have anything else to occupy my mind. I acknowledge it’s a problem, so I’ve started to intentionally bring the book I am reading with me when I get my hair done or go to the doctor. Anywhere I know there will be idle time, I bring my book. I also will pick up my knitting. It occupies my hands and almost instantly the thinking time turns on.
OUTCOME: I also started keeping a notebook with items to think about. I add new business ideas, create new processes, and even plan my weekly meals. There are plenty of ways to occupy your mind other than scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.
Trust me when I say that I am always guilty of scrolling through my social media accounts. And there are times when I allow myself to do that without feeling guilty. I’ve also started to take advantage of the new Screen Time capture on my iPhone. I keep track of my time over a 7 day period, and I know the percentage of time I am up or down…I try to always be down.
PS – I failed this week…as of today I am up 6% from last week! Gauge how much time you’re spending on reading, reference, and productivity as opposed to social networking. If you have an iPhone…check out your screen time over the last 7-days…what is your weekly hour total?
I challenge you to take a look at how and when you’re grabbing your phone or iPad. How is it disrupting your thinking time?
Reply to this email and let me know where you want to make changes. Tell me how you will improve your thinking time. I would love to hear how others are making time to sit quietly and think.