Thinking time is important. Too often we get caught up in the doing. We have task lists, calendars and project plans, telling us what needs to be done and where we need to be next. And they are some of the most useful tools we have when it comes to project management and productivity. We are always happy to see people working away on their computers and making sure they are doing something is one of those aspects of “management by walking around” traps we can get caught up in. The problem is, that often it is the people that look like they are goofing off that could be the source of the biggest financial gains in a company.
It is these times of stepping back and reflecting that provide the greatest chances to improve and make less obvious connections. But from the outside looking in, it is hard to distinguish reflection from just a lack of doing anything. How can you distinguish somebody who is taking advantage of getting a paycheck and just loafing around to somebody who is taking time to reflect and think about the bigger picture?
In the short term, you can’t.
There is no way to see who is and who isn’t looking at the big picture. But you can figure it out in the long run by looking at the work they provide. The direction the person goes and the ideas they generate. It takes time to assimilate and process information and in this day and age when people are paid for knowledge work, it it ironic that more often than not, we focus on making sure they are creating documents, emails, code and other work products instead of actually paying people to think.
Project plans, task lists and calendars are only going to provide us incremental gains and keep us on track. It is the day dreams, the creative busts of insight and the chances to get off track and the rubbing shoulders with different disciplines that will provide us with the most leverage in the future. Those are the places were we will have the most impact in our businesses and in our lives. So, what will you do today to make sure you and your team have the time you need to find those nuggets?
Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash