Give Yourself Time to Think

Quiet time at lake

How often do you give yourself time to think? Do you practice a daily quiet time? Or are you constantly jostled about by the immediate, without time to adequately step back and reflect on what is happening? 

Find a place for and schedule a regular quiet time. The name betrays the purpose. It is a time to be quiet, a time to filter out the noise all around us. Being quiet is almost a foreign thought for many. But it is a key element in greater personal effectiveness.

This time is your time. It is a time all alone. It is a time that others around you must respect and support as you walk, pray, read, think or listen to inspirational music – whatever gives you a sense of renewal and vitality.

How does this save time and make you more effective? You will find clarity of thought; new insights and a general sense of well-being come out of this time. You will be more focused, energized and conscious of where you need to go and what you need to do.


"Seizing one right moment can matter more than a hundred days of just putting in your time."

Robert Cooper, Get Out of Your Own Way

Five Days of Coaching to Help You Give Yourself Time to Think

man sitting reading

DAY ONE

Set aside some totally quiet time today. Get away from the noise – all of it – of everyday life.  No people, no news, no noise. Don't try concentrate on work. Your brain will be busy, but simply assume as quiet a mental space as possible. Without forcing it, see what comes up. Most people don't allow this time to happen.

The Coach asks: 

  • Find the quiet time mentioned for this day and take it. What do you notice? 
  • Have a notepad and jot down what comes to mind as you sit quietly. At first it may be only reflective of your "noise." But wait, see what comes up, and capture that thought. 
  • What do you suppose would be the benefit - to you - to dedicate and give yourself time to think?
  • How willing are you to set aside a daily quiet time for the next week? Do you need to schedule it in? How can you best remind yourself it is time?  


DAY TWO

Start establishing a routine of quiet. Walk, pray, read, listen to an inspiring recording or, like yesterday,  just sit quietly. Resist the urge to get on to other things. Even if you can only spend a few quality minutes, this will give your day a boost. Look at it as setting the tone for your day, afternoon or evening.

The Coach asks:

  • Many leaders try take take a quiet time first thing in the morning, some last thing at night. When is the best time for you to carve out some time? 
  • Where can you best be quiet and reflective? 
  • Experiment with what might help you? Instrumental music in the background? Total quiet? In the back yard? In your favorite "get away from it all" chair, walking a trail near your home? 
  • What would quality time, for you, actually consist of? Praying? Reading the Bible? Reading a chapter in a book? Listening to an particular piece of music? Staying quiet throughout?  


DAY THREE

Today, record your thoughts as you take your quiet time. Don't write a book. Just record the few key things that come to your mind. Again, see what comes up. Can you act on it later? Is it a shift from the way you have been thinking? If it can be helpful, come back later and explore your notes further.

The Coach asks:

  • You are three days in on this practice. Record the thoughts that come to your mind as you give yourself time to think. They can be as random as anything. Don't worry about it. The more you do this, the greater the connections you'll probably notice.
  • Is something actionable coming up over and over? What's that telling you? What can you or will you do about it? 
  • If you find it easier to record your brief thoughts, do that. There isn't a magic formula for how to do quiet time. 
  • Go back and review what you wrote on Day One. What encouraging and uplifting thoughts were there? What makes sense now that didn't then? In many ways a quiet time is cumulative. The brain can slowly get quieter and more at peace, allowing thoughts to come more easily and clearly.  


DAY FOUR

Today, be conscious of all the noise in your environment, especially that which is irritating or distracting. Can it be stopped or decreased? Does it need to be? Would it help you or your staff to work with greater concentration? Take action.

The Coach asks:

  • Identify and write down all the distractions you can think of that stop you from having quality time to think. Divide them into categories of "most distracting" to "least distracting." What do you notice? What control do you have over those most distracting things around you? 
  • Looking at your list, what one thing, if you took action on it today, could most free up or make possible quiet time for you? Will you commit to act on it? 
  • As you reach Day Four, what's your mindset towards establishing a daily quiet time to think without distractions. 
  • What do you feel are the most important things you can think about? 


DAY FIVE

Many of the great ideas of our time have not come at work but while thinking about other things. For most, a relaxed mind seems to have more capacity to innovate. Quiet is an important part of that. Continue with your new routine of quiet time, knowing that it will allow you to approach your day with greater calm and focus.

The Coach asks: 

  • Review what you believe are the characteristics of a relaxed mind.
  • How are you experiencing greater calm and focus? 
  • What good ideas have you had in the past, that came while doing things other than work? What were you doing? How did you act on it? 
  • Continue with your new routine of quiet. Make it a habit. Be intentional about noticing the benefits to reinforce your new habit. 


Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 


Notes

Along with all the good things we are taking in, we are constantly bombarded with "noise." The noise can become deafening. We find ourselves simply reacting instead of responding, because we  just don't find the time and space to think. 

Give yourself time to think. Learn how to do quiet time, and practice it. Set the standard and protect it with boundaries. Your leadership is more apt to thrive because of it. 


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