Whether you are a leader, manager or an employee who wants to be a high performer, there is nothing more important than creating more time to think. It may seem next to impossible in this fast-paced, constantly plugged-in world, but it must be a priority if personal and professional growth are important to you. Why? Because if you aren’t making time to think through problems, the future and your role in what comes next, you will always be reacting. If you are constantly reacting, you aren’t giving yourself time to see the possibilities, think through potential consequences, calm down and, ultimately, make better decisions. Here are some ways to create more time to think:

  • Responding versus reacting: When you find yourself in a situation where you must react, fight-or-flight mode kicks in. Stress hormones wash through your body, and you feel compelled to say or do something that you may later regret. Reacting is a natural urge; it happens automatically and must be consciously resisted. Instead of reacting, choose to respond. You can do this by taking a breath and giving yourself time to reflect on what’s happening in the moment.
  • Stop wasting so much time: Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, television and other distractions should be reduced to a minimum, as they are a waste of time. Do you do anything with the steady stream of content that comes from these sources anyway? When was the last time you had a profound, personally life-changing realization from a tweet or an Instagram post? Never? Me neither. Shut it down and fill your newfound time with things like reading thought-provoking writing, writing your personal vision, thinking about how to best achieve your goals and brainstorming ways to improve your relationships.
  • Simplify: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” This quote by Warren Buffet sums it up. The busier you are, the less time you have to think. The less time you have to think, the harder it is to be really successful. “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think,” Buffet said. It’s hard to argue with one of the most successful people on the planet. Simplifying will help you focus on what’s most important.
  • Delegate: Another way to simplify is to delegate. Are you really the person who must do all the tasks on your list? Hire someone to clean your house, have groceries delivered to your door, make your kids ride the bus to school, ask a coworker to help with a task, or approach your boss about getting administrative support on a big project. If you are a manager, hire people you can delegate to and empower them to take on challenging assignments. When you find yourself performing tasks that are in the weeds, ask yourself, “Should I be doing this or managing this?” If the answer is managing it, delegate it.
  • Get organized: Being disorganized is a time suck. Plan your day so you don’t waste time looking for items, doing things twice or working on unimportant tasks. Be disciplined; make an agenda that outlines your day. This list should be manageable, include a block of time used to think, and describe the three things you must do to move the ball down the field on your most important priorities.
  • Take a lunch break: Resist the temptation to work while you scarf down a sandwich; lunchtime is the perfect time to ponder. Step away from your desk, reflect on your day, and come up with ways you could be doing things better or consider what you might be overlooking. Better yet, take a walk and let your mind wander; be curious as to where your thoughts take you.
  • Find your method: There are many ways to do your best thinking. Mine happens to be when I am exercising. Writing is also a great outlet. Other people do their best thinking in the shower, while walking the dog, during long flights or when lying on the beach staring at the ocean. Find yours and do it as often as possible. The outcome will be better decisions, more intentional responses and a clearer pathway to a fulfilling life.

For more information, contact Kerry Siggins at kerry.siggins@stoneagetools.com. To read or sign up for her blog, visit www.kerrysiggins.com.