Date Published: 18th April 2016

In today´s complex and highly dynamic world many people rush from one meeting to another, they chase task after task, and try to find ways to squeeze as much as possible into their diaries.

For them management and leadership is like being in the gym, sweating, and working hard to get in shape. In reality, however, they are at severe risk of becoming prisoners of exaggerated expectations, narrow-mindedness, and unreflected rush. They do not stop often enough, they do not take a break, and they do not think.

Great leaders, however, are regularly allocating a lot of time to think and reflect. Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates for example take even “think weeks” or “think days“ every year which consist of walking, meditation, reading, and healthy eating.

You might be tempted to argue that you don´t have enough time to think, because you are so busy and so important. In this case, please allow me to refer to Warren Buffett, the world´s most successful investor, who by his own estimate has spent 80% of his time reading and thinking.

Clearly, if he can carve out enough time to enjoy the privilege to think, you can do so, too. Read below what some proven approaches and techniques are.
Make THINKING Part Of Your Way Of Life
Understand and fully accept that having enough thinking time is crucial. Make it a part of your professional and personal life and establish it as a core value. When looking back one day at the end of your life you´d like to be able to state that you had been thinking deeply and broadly about any topic and aspect which has mattered to you.

Establish A Weekly Or Daily THINKING Routine
There always will be external tasks and deadlines which you will need to comply with. It’s a fact of life. Still, in order to allocate enough time to ponder, you need to plan sufficient fixed time slots for thinking. Either do it every day for at least one hour, and/or alternatively have longer reflection periods at the beginning of the week. It all depends on your personality and preferences. However, do it and do not allow others stealing your thinking time.

Find And Cherish Your Thinking Stimuli
Sports and reading are excellent idea generators for me. For you it might be hiking in the mountains, fooling around with your kids, or playing the piano. Whatever it is, enjoy it frequently, develop and protect it.

Specify Your Top Three Thinking Goals
Either for the week or for every day. Usually we only plan action items and tangible business goals. Make it a priority to write down every Sunday at least three thought-provoking goals for the week to come.

Ask The 6 Success Questions
Unfortunately many of us have forgotten how to ask questions. Others have become too lazy to ask them. Or sometimes we might be afraid of doing so. Instead, however, you should ask tons of Why, Why Not, What If, What If Not, What Else, How and When/Who/By When questions to get your creative juices flowing.

Feed Your Brain
Thinkers love to “eat” new information, data, stories, etc. The more, the better. Which book(s) do you currently read? Many thinkers would read 2-3 books at the same time and every month up to 3-4 (some even more): Fiction, non-fiction, biographies. Whatever. And by the way, no need to read every book from A to Z.

Conduct Regular THINKING SLOT Checks
Make sure that once or twice a week you put 10 to 15 minutes aside to review whether your daily thinking activities and your overall schedule are aligned with your goals. If not, spend more time to reflect.

Final Thoughts
Being successful in life is much more than working hard. Work (career, wealth) is just one aspect of life. There are other crucial areas which need to get adequate and regular attention in order to lead a fulfilled life with enough time to reflect: social area (family, friends, recognition), health area (sports, relaxation, diet, well-being and fitness), and THINKING as part of the spiritual area (fulfillment, religion, love, philosophy).

Having enough time to think is all about self-management and taking full responsibility of yourself. You can and you must pro-actively think, create, organize and live your life. No one else can and will do it for you.

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