Take Time to Make Time
The best two minutes you’ll ever spend.
When I go into companies, I always notice how everyone is rushing. They’re running a hundred miles an hour. They’re working on a project and before they have to report out, they’re racing into the room saying, “Who’s gonna do what?” There’s a lack of preparation, an absence of “Hey, let’s make a time to reflect and look at this from some other angles. Let’s prepare a little bit more. Let’s prioritize a bit.”
But that, of course, takes time.
We all wish there were more than 24 hours in a day. We have so many ideas, so much to do … but perhaps the most important thing you can do each day is to take two minutes to think and do nothing. Think about the business, think about your staff, think about your next steps and think about how to grow each of these.
So many times I hear, “What? I don’t have two minutes, Jon. That’s the whole problem!”
Time to Make Time for Something New
A lot of people have never done this, and most people don’t know how to even begin. Here’s an exercise to do right now to help you build that muscle. I am asking you to do this in real time as you are reading this article. When you’re done with this paragraph, put down the Jewish News and your iPhone, close your laptop and put away everything else that’s a distraction. Now, set a timer for two minutes and take that two minutes for some think time. Just do nothing; close your eyes and sit two minutes in silence.
OK, how was it? How long did it seem? When I do this exercise in my coach-inars, the answer is anywhere from five to 10 minutes. It can feel like a lot of time, but if you simply bake two minutes into your day, it can lead to remarkable results. Even cutting it in half, to one minute, is a giant help.
Why? Because you need to be sharp, you need to be crisp, and you need to be ready to solve problems. To do that, you can’t be running nonstop every second of the day. You’ve got to recharge.
Research on creativity suggests that we come up with our greatest insights and biggest breakthroughs when we are in a more meditative and relaxed state of mind.
We need quiet time to just reflect. With practice, you’ll build the muscle memory and know when to incorporate it into your day. Take two minutes (or one) of quiet time/executive time to think how you’re going to attack a situation, problem-solve or handle an upcoming tough conversation.
Change Takes Commitment
This can sound simple in concept, but it can be difficult in the real-time execution when you need it most. As I have mentioned in previous columns, we always want to remember the Alignment – Action – Adjust strategy to grow ourselves and our business. What we need to remind ourselves in the moment is that this quick time-out helps us get back into alignment. And when we’re in alignment, we can do amazing things with an idea, with a project, with a task, with our job, with our vision and/or with our people. We are able to take action and be more effective.
How about when things change? We often forget that we need to expand our mindset into the adjustment angle. Sometimes during this stage, we actually need more quiet time; but at least take that minimum two minutes. Once we’ve taken the time to strategize how to realign, we can once again act. It’s a rinse/repeat, never-ending activity to increase productivity.
By taking time to figure out how to get back into alignment, we can act with a growth-minded, people-centric plan. Sometimes we have to do this multiple times a day, even as we’re running at the speed of light. Pay attention to those times when you need a comma. What’s a comma? According to Grandma Babe Pickman, it indicates a pause, a moment, a reminder to yourself when you need quiet think time. It’s hard to doubt a woman who lived a healthy 97 years and taught this valuable lesson to her friends and family.
Incorporate that two minutes into your day — every day. Schedule time in your calendar and, if you share a calendar, put, “Think time; please do not disturb.”
Take Grandma Babe’s advice and take that comma. It will open a space to quiet your mind. I guarantee you, your best ideas will come from those moments or shortly thereafter. Those moments will accelerate your path to your corner office —because your mind and your business matter!