When you work with innovation at a high level, you need time to think and reflect in order to be as good as you can be. Very few of us manage to do this in today’s hectic world, but with a few changes, you can probably free up one hour of time a week for high-value thinking. Once you try this, you’ll think it’s the greatest luxury of your week.
An hour of solitary reflection (with no interruptions for multi-tasking or other distractions allowed) could make a tremendous difference in your ability to remain focused on your vision and your priorities. To make maximum use of this valuable time, your thinking needs to be directed toward a particular issue. Here are some additional guidelines:
• Set an objective. What do you want to achieve with this hour?
• Fully define the problem first. Don’t jump immediately to a solution before exploring all the facets of the issue at hand.
• Write, type, or record your thoughts ASAP. It’s all too easy to forget your thinking and your conclusions if you move on after your thinking hour and don’t get your ideas saved. Also, putting something on paper makes your commitment to it more concrete and is more likely to prompt you to actually follow through on a plan.
• Make maximum use of any solitary time. Many people note that they get their best ideas when walking or running or even driving alone. Any time you’re alone and away from interruptions can be good thinking time as long as you don’t let your cell phone or Blackberry interfere. Just be sure you record your results as soon afterward as you can.
I hope you will take actions towards securing this kind of thinking time in your work. But let’s stay on the topic of time management a little longer.
The 4-Hour Work Week
I once send an email to the network groups I facilitate in Denmark. It was inspired by the book phenomenon, The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. What a title! That certainly helped make the book an international bestseller, and it also caught my interest as I was looking into how innovation leaders and intrapreneurs manage their time at that time.
To be honest, I did not read the full book. It is a tad too superficial and gung-ho, but Ferris also deserves a lot of respect for creating entirely new ways of managing – and thinking about – your time. My email to the group went like this:
This evening you could have seen an interesting clip on TV. It was about how you could cut down on the time spent at work and get more time for the fun stuff in life: family, friends, and sports/leisure activities.
The clip was on Timothy Ferris, who has written The 4—Hour Work Week. The book is typically American. Sometimes it just gets too much and too “just do it”-like, but it also has golden nuggets waiting to be picked up.
It has been one of my inspirations for creating a more simple life, which has been one of my main tasks for the last six months. Among other things, the book helped me do are:
• Prioritize my contacts. My prioritized way of communicating with others is 1) email 2) phone 3) meetings. It has surprised some that I did not want to meet with them as I believed—and as it turned out—the task could be done by email or phone. It is not to be rude. It just saves time for all involved and it works fine. Don’t worry—I do not plan to turn our network into a virtual community—it is great seeing you face-to-face.
• Outsource what can be outsourced. You will be surprised to you know what you can actually outsource in India—and other countries. Why not look further into those slightly dull and perhaps even time-constraining tasks you have? Perhaps they can be outsourced. Or what about those jobs where a helping (virtual) hand would be just fine—at work and leisure? Think hard why it is that you cannot outsource them. I use or have used people in the U.S. (publications) and India (market research and Web site development). It takes a while to find the right people, but I can definitely recommend that you look into freeing up time like this.
• Set aside time for your priorities. Having two great girls aged 3 and 6 part-time takes time and commitment. Sports—triathlon for now—takes time and hard work. I have chosen to give my family and my sports high priority. It requires that I set aside time for this. Work has not been damaged by this—almost the opposite as I find myself to be more focused and productive than I used to be.
I hope you can find some inspiration in this.
I received many responses to this email. First, people appreciated that I was being open and honest about things that were going on in my life; it seemed to strengthen my relationships with many of them. Later on, many people reported that they had taken time to reflect on my message and were trying to do some of the things I suggested.
It was great to hear how others were able to find inspiration on time management. As I have said earlier; time is the most precious asset we have. Perhaps you will get inspired?