Being busy doesn’t mean you are productive. How many times have you arrived at the end of your work day only to wonder what it was you accomplished? Most time management gurus always focus on how to cram more into your day. The more you process the more productive you are – so they say.
In corporate America, the ability to multi-task was highly valued. However, recent studies show us that there are major disadvantages to multi-tasking. In order to work smarter than harder, you need to learn the art of thinking.
Thinking is a skill that is not taught, nor even mentioned in most time management seminars. Yet, the best ideas I have ever had came to me in moments of quiet contemplation. Is it possible for you to do less this week and yet unleash your best ideas?
4 Types of Productive Thinking
If you want to read an entire book on the skill of thinking, then I would encourage you to read John Maxwell’s classic, Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work. In this post, I am going to share with you 4 of my favorite ways to think.
1. Reflective Thinking – I do this each morning before I get my day started. We often start the day with our brains full. Stored away in our morning thoughts are things to get done, places to go, dreams to pursue, ideas to nurture, prayers to pray, and decisions to make. This is why I start my day with Morning Pages (see my post: The Benefits of Morning Pages and Your Productivity). I use Evernote as a place to store my journal entries. I write until I am done. I have an Evernote Notebook labeled “Journal.” Each day I start a new note and write about whatever is on my mind.
2. Focused Thinking – Each day I want to pick out just a few to do items I want to move forward. I have a whiteboard with my 90 day goals listed. This helps me to see what big projects I want to focus on. Focused thinking helps me to harness energy toward completing a desired goal. It also brings clarity as to what the target is for me today.
3. Possibility Thinking – This is what we often call “day dreaming.” Day dreaming has gotten a bad rap in my opinion. Instead of possibility thinking, we tell our kids to go to college, get a stable job, and do what others tell you to do. We trade time for money and see work as a necessary evil. Possibility thinking will draw people and opportunities to you. Not in some mythological way. People who think big attract like-minded people. Possibility thinking can also give you an incredible amount of energy. When I decided I wanted to write a Kindle Book (Career Manual: A Proven Formula to Discover Work You Love), it was completed within 30 days. That is energy and excitement in action!
4. Strategic Thinking – I have often heard Zig Ziglar say, “Most people spend more time planning their vacation, than they do planning their lives.” Do you spend time in strategic thinking? What direction do you want to go with your life? career? relationships? For me, strategic thinking allows me the opportunity to ask the right questions. Am I headed in the right direction? Is this what I should be spending my time doing? Am I being the husband/father that I should? Am I getting the results that I want? This all comes from strategic thinking.
How much time do you devote each week to thinking? Is it possible for you to do less and yet accomplish more. I want to challenge you to start valuing thinking in your life. The art of sitting alone with your thoughts. You might just surprise yourself.
What benefits have you received from your thinking sessions?