There´s a poll on the Fast Company website that doesn´t necessarily surprise me, but it certainly does frustrate me. The question is "Do you set aside time for thinking?´. The sample size of respondents is small, but I suspect that the numbers would remain about the same for a larger group. More than half of the people who have answered have said that they don´t set aside thinking time, though they would like to. The big question is why not? If you want to put aside time for thinking, why don´t you put aside time for thinking? And if you don´t want to put time aside for thinking, then, well, what are you thinking?
First, why should you put time aside for thinking? On the simplest level, because if you don´t consciously set time aside for thinking, you probably won´t have time to think. Unless you really don´t trust yourself, or you live a life in which you have no control whatsoever, taking the time to seek your own counsel just plain makes sense. I´m not talking about two seconds, either. I mean setting aside a real block of time to consider where you are at, where you want to be and how you are going to get there. You can´t truly give your mind the time to accomplish what it can accomplish when you are distracting it constantly. And I do actually mean that you should block off a block of time in your daytimer or PDA or scrap of paper or whatever you use to organize. Close the door, dim the lights, maybe even close your eyes if you trust yourself to stay awake, and think. No multi-tasking allowed.
Since thinking seems like an obvious task and is unquestionably valuable for our lives and our businesses, why don´t more of us set aside time to do it? My theory is that we have been programmed out of it. Thinking involves sitting still and not doing anything else. To ourselves, and to others, sitting still is equated as doing nothing and wasting time. So, instead of taking time to consider, we fill our time and let our time get away from us. Doesn´t make much sense. Here´s the thing — "doing nothing´ will actually make you more productive, because you´ll know what you need to do and how you are going to do it.
Claire Tompkins was also fueled to write about the same survey. She has her own theories about our unwillingness to think. My favorite is that people assume that someone who answers a question quickly is smarter than someone who pauses for thought first. That shows, among other things, that "people´ aren´t always right.
Try it. Today. Take 20 minutes (probably not enough, but a start). Block out the world and just think. I think you´ll like it.