Of course it's important to make time for strategic thinking. Yet few people make time, because it's easy to get caught up in regular work. Learn how you can carve out the time for strategic thinking—and manage to hold that commitment sacrosanct.
- We all know it's important to make time for strategic thinking. That's the big picture work that helps us identify trends, spot opportunities, and make sure we're working on the right priorities. But if we're honest, most of us don't do it, because we're run ragged with our day to day responsibilities and obligations. You may have tried before and failed to carve out time for strategic thinking. Here are a few techniques you can use to make it happen and safe guard it so it sticks. First, it's important to put time for strategic thinking on your calendar.
It might seem odd to schedule thinking, and you can call it whatever you want if you think others might see your calendar and look askance at that terminology. But unless you protect blocks of time they will be eaten up by meetings or phone calls or other bothersome obligations that are anathema to big picture thinking. Schedule a block of at least a couple of hours and protect it. If it turns out something important comes up, a group meeting that can only happen then for instance, that's fine, but don't cancel the strategic thinking time, move it on your calendar so it's guaranteed to happen.
Second, there's a tendency in modern life to fill up every spare minute with distractions. Sometimes you can argue they're productive distractions like listening to an audio book while driving to work. Other times, less so, like fiddling with your phone or checking Facebook while you're waiting in line. So embrace the quiet of those moments, and even just occasionally, resist the impulse to fill up the space with stimulation. Instead, use the time to ponder big picture questions that you've been grappling with. Sometimes letting your mind wander, even briefly, can lead to productive insights.
Finally, one of the best ways to keep any commitment is to have an accountability partner. Perhaps you have a coworker who's also been wanting to make more time for strategic thinking. Or maybe she has an entirely different goal, like wanting to read a book a week or learn Spanish. Having the exact same goal isn't important. What is is having someone you've committed to checking in with regularly, and whom you'll be embarrassed to let down if you don't live up to your commitments. You know spending time on strategic thinking is good for you. Now it's time to make it happen.
With these techniques, you'll be able to defend your schedule when the urgent tries desperately to encroach upon the important. Don't let it happen. Make strategic thinking a priority you live out.
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