Zip. Run. Rush. Cram. Race. These are the words that describe many a person’s work day. If they are the main descriptors of your work day, you’re likely not giving your best. How could you? You’re too busy rushing. The only way to pump out that kick butt strategy is to have the time to think about it; to process all the moving parts and make sense of them. However, with meetings after meetings you have little time to think. This is why you need to start scheduling nothing into your weekly work roster.
Great ideas don’t simply fall from the sky…most of the time. They need incubation time. Time to simply think. As Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn says, the regular scheduling of 30 – 90 minutes of nothing are free spaces that are integral to the success of his company. These are the spaces of time where you solve whatever problems are in front of you. This is where you think about where you want you company to be 5 years down the road, the best ways to improve your product, address unmet customer needs, or widen a competitive advantage. Weiner believes this type of thinking requires:
- Uninterrupted focus
- Being able to thoroughly develop and question assumptions
- Synthesis all of the data, information and knowledge that’s incessantly coming your way
- Connecting dots
- Bouncing ideas off of trusted colleagues
- Iterating through multiple scenarios.
This type of conceiving and re-conceiving requires you to step back from tactical execution and make room for strategic thinking. This only happens when you proactively carve out the time in your schedule. If not you might simply be running around reacting to your environment rather than influencing it.
All too often I see leaders scrambling from one harried meeting to another, never taking the time to sink their teeth into what’s facing them. Inevitably though, not taking this strategic thinking time out front means having to attend more meetings and put in way more time at the other end.
So, the choice is yours. Get in the habit of scheduling daily or weekly nothing time that’s there for you to grapple with whatever’s facing you or jump from hot seat to hot seat. What will you decide?