Einstein, Nietzsche and Darwin all made time to think. Not do. Just think. Darwin had a “thinking path” he walked along, Nietzsche strolled in nature and Einstein daydreamed. They all valued the process of thinking.
Working isn’t just ‘doing’. Working is allowing your brain to process new information, to bounce around ideas, sifting out the good from the mediocre. Letting the priorities rise up and the noise drift away.
I recently set a task for a client who was struggling to get through her to-do list. I asked her to sit in a meeting room on her own, without her phone, a pen or any distractions. All she had was herself and her mind.
Clearly, she thought I was out of mine.
“How can that possibly help me get anything done?” she asked, horrified at the idea of ‘losing’ more time from her hectic day. She lasted 12 minutes before she bolted for the door and ran back to her desk.
A week later, I was surprised but pleased to hear from her: “I did it. I sat there for 27 minutes. At first, I felt like I had before – an idiot. Stupid for sitting there, doing nothing and wasting time. But then, I had an idea. I realised how to solve a problem. It was SO obvious. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!”
My client now has time blocked out in her calendar for ‘reflection and brain utilisation’ and not only is her to-do list being done, but she’s also thought of better ways to do things.
Sometimes we need to stop doing and take the time to think. As my client discovered, you can actually get more things done and better, if you just make the time.