by Philip Nation
In our hectic world of go, Go, GO! it seems difficult to simply find time to sit down and think. In my own life, I have felt the pressure of three different jobs, being overrun with the need to produce content (which I have not), while not abandoning my family in the process.
Oftentimes, I do not have time to sit and think simply because I over-commit. Being a publishing director for Lifeway is my full-time job. Being a teaching pastor and elder of The Fellowship is my bi-vocational ministry. Teaching classes like Christian Leadership for Union University has been an addition to it all. So, when you are busy–and we’re all busy–we need principles we hold to in order to simply think, dream, and strategize.
I recently shared with some of my team seven ways that I am trying to implement more brain time into my life. Here they are:
- Make it part of your job. “Thinking is necessary for your job” seems like a silly statement but it’s a necessary one. Otherwise, we simply complete tasks non-stop and never come up with a new idea.
- First things first. Don’t allow the menial tasks of the day to take precedence over the opportunity to see ahead, hear what’s really going on, and think through priorities.
- Reframe circumstances by asking “Why?” five times. Work is never done in a vacuum. When we experience success or failure, we need to know what contribute to either. Asking “Why?” at least five times will take you the context, circumstances, and contributing factors as to how you got to the end result.
- Create a “thinking hour.” The concept comes from this article by Scott Young. He encourages one hour per week. It should be doable but I try to do it every other week. You have to schedule it and keep it on your schedule.
- Hibernate. Multitasking is one of the great enemies of thought. If you need to put in some brain time, close down email, power off your cell phone, and shut out the world for a time.
- Get moving. Physical activity often provokes new thinking. Simply take a walk around the building or around the block. Give your physical vision, hearing, and other senses a workout so your brain can reframe what you need to dwell on.
- Have loose and tight goals. If you set aside time to think, have an idea about what you’re thinking about. I encourage our team to know the difference between daydreaming and strategy. We need both. Go into your thinking time with a view of which you need at the moment.