I obviously didn’t invent the idea. In fact, I first heard about it years ago in stories about Bill Gates’ twice-a-year “Think Week” habit when he was CEO of Microsoft (see “Resources” below). At first, it sounded like a luxury of time that I couldn’t afford until I actually did it myself. On that first THINK TIME, I immediately recognized it as an extremely valuable strategic tool to focus onq my business and its trajectory with a fresh perspective.
I know it’s good for me and my business, so why wouldn’t I do it?
- Albert Einstein
- As a leader, we are pulled in many different directions with never-ending distractions that make it very difficult to step back, think about our business, and revisit our “why.” THINK TIME provides breathing space to do just that.
- If it’s not crystal clear in your mind where you and your company are going, it’s going to be impossible to provide clarity to your team.
- Getting away 2 or 3 times a year to ask yourself questions like the ones below is not only good for you, but it’s good for your company, team, and customers as well.
- What do I want my company to achieve in the next 3 years?
- What do I want to be spending my time on?
- How can I improve my leadership approach and style?
- What trends are affecting our market?
- What new technology is bringing opportunity or disruption?
- How can we dramatically improve our customers’ experience?
- What changes do I need to make on the team?
- Who needs to move to a new seat?
- Who needs a stretch opportunity?
- Peter Drucker
- From my own experience, here are a handful of practical things that improve the quality of my THINK TIME:
- Get out of my normal surroundings to a place where I can have a healthy degree of isolation and focus.
- Set aside 2 - 3 days. This seems to be just the right length for me to go deep. (NOTE: If that long is simply not an option for you in your situation, then take a single day at an “undisclosed location” nearby. I know someone who’s done their THINK TIME hiding out in a corner of a library all day.)
- Don’t just show up. Be sure to have a game plan.
- Pick some themes or topics in advance to ensure focus.
- No devices. In fact, I print out in advance what I’ll read during THINK TIME. The temptation to check my email "just once" or respond to that text is simply too great.
- Pre-prepare meals, so I don’t waste time trying to decide what to eat.
- Exercise in the morning and take mind-clearing walks in the afternoon or evening.
- No TV. It’s a time suck and mindless distraction that diminishes my focus.
- No alcohol. Other than maybe a drink at the end to celebrate successful THINK TIME.