A previous perspective I wrote about ended like this … “you’ll need to change something to maximise your chance of getting attention. What will that be?”
Thank you for reading it. Did you come up with an answer?
Chances are you didn’t and skipped onto the next email in your pile. You were in email processing mode, not thinking mode.
You see, I made a request for you to think about a question. You ignored that request and moved to the next item. Are you a busy executive?
[Apologies to the minority who thought about the question. A gold star, if that’s you.]
Anyway, it’s a good idea to separate email processing from thinking.
How do you set aside time to think, free of distraction? Here’s what I do:
- Keep a list of questions you want to spend quality time thinking about. Tip: Keep a separate book for your Thinking Time sessions. Write by hand, no technology.
- For your Thinking Time session choose a question you want to think about and write it down on a blank page. You may have a’chain of questions’ with a common theme, that’s okay too.
- Clear the decks for an hour. You’ll need uninterrupted time, and a comfortable space. Set a timer for 45 minutes, that way you won’t need to check the time.
- Adopt thinking physiology. Auguste Rodin understood that the mind follows the body’s prompts. Tip: And this is unscientific, but try it out. Looking up stimulates day-dreaming mode and is ideal for idea generation. Looking down, and left, stimulates internal-dialogue which is good for working things out.
- Start by asking yourself the question. Then write down your stream of consciousness. No judgement, capture what comes into your mind. If you drift off topic refocus by asking the question again. Let one thought trigger another. Structure isn’t important at this stage. Tip: Keep going after the initial thoughts, there are usually the top of mind and obvious. Expect to start running out of ideas … then to have a surge.
- When the timer goes off it’s time to structure things. Extract and sort your thoughts into groups, sequences and lists. This is the harvesting stage, where you connect the dots.
- You may want to move some ideas onto an action list. For others you will want to schedule more time to think.
That’s a Thinking Time process which you may find useful. So, what was that question from last week again.
You’ll need to change something to maximise your chance of getting executive attention. What will that be?”
[The process I use is from Keith J. Cunningham. He writes about it in his entertaining business book, The Road Less Stupid.]