Heather Foley explains how you can find the time you need to think more effectively at work.
1. Don’t let the time slip by worthlessly
Consider all of the ‘dead time’ you have in the day. Taking a shower, driving to work, walking, cycling or catching a train are all thinking opportunities.
If you’re determined to avoid wasting time, you’ll be surprised by how many opportunities you have for thinking things through.
While your colleagues waste time with gossip, you can spend time thinking though the latest problem you face. Don’t let the time slip by worthlessly.
2. Identify the best time of day to tackle the problem
Different problems are best tackled at different times of the day.
You may find that if you have a fairly small but immediate problem or opportunity, it’s great to deal with it first thing in the morning, whereas for more complex, delicate and long-term issues, you may want to contemplate them slowly over an evening.
Try to do both types of thinking consciously at both ends of the day and find which works best for you.
3. Mull something over before going to sleep
There have been countless studies on the impact of sleep on the brain, many of which describe how sleep is used to make sense of what’s happening in our lives, as well as to order and prioritise thoughts and memories.
Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the most effective thinking tactics is to mull something over before going to sleep. Try it for yourself. You may find that you wake up knowing which course of action to take.
4. Give yourself the space you need to consider all of the options
Some decisions are momentous. When you identify such a decision, you must give yourself the space you need to consider all of the options and think through all of the considerations.
For this, you need to put aside a whole day. Avoiding interruptions and being rushed will mean that you are giving yourself the best shot at making the right decision.
5. Swap the office for a more creative setting
There’s no doubt that changing your physical environment can affect your inspiration and creative thinking. Similarly, some environments are simply not conducive to serious, concentrated thought.
Where you work every day is so familiar that it may not inspire lateral thinking. If you need serious thinking time, go somewhere that will help you to think creatively and positively.
6. Under pressure? Find somewhere quiet and give yourself a time limit
While we may want the luxury of space and time to mull over a problem, sometimes we have to act under pressure.
If you’re unlucky enough to be in this situation, you need to make the best of it. Start by getting the views of your most trusted people, then find somewhere quiet, give yourself a time limit, and think things through as best you can.
Heather Foley is a consultant at ETSplc.com, a leading HR Consultancy.