Robert was busy going nowhere. He was drowning in a sea of emails, back to back meetings, performance reports and people issues. It seemed like everything was coming at him; at best, he was just surviving the onslaught. He knew that he needed time to think about the strategic issues that the business faced. But that was not something he could jam into the end of a busy day. Something had to give, so he decided to allocate one day a week for thinking time. That meant that he pushed more decision making authority to his team.
They soon learnt that the thinking time in his diary was sacrosanct. They began to appreciate that in those moments of quiet solitude he came up with game-changing ideas.
Bill Gates took this idea even further by taking himself away to a secret location for ‘Think Weeks,’ a week of seclusion where he would ponder technology trends and pass his thoughts across the Microsoft empire.
Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work, believes that many of us have lost the ability to do the kind of deep thinking that is needed to change the game. He says that deep work is, “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” Instead, we are spending our days trying to keep pace with email and social media for example. He cites a recent Adobe study which suggests that the average daily time spent checking email is now 5.6 hours — up almost a half hour since 2017.
How do you create the free time you need for deep thinking? Busy executives faced with this question invariably come to the same conclusion as Robert. It is only possible if you empower a great team around you.
Are you doing the thinking that is required to change the game?
Best regards, Brian