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Ang Hoecker

How You Can Carve Out More Think Time in Your Busy Day

In today’s ever-connected work environment, feeling busy and like we are “constantly on” is part of our job description. Fast-paced days filled with meetings, tasks, and a seemingly endless supply of emails and texts are the norm. We believe this is how a productive employee works. However, this perpetual busyness leaves little room for creative reflection, problem-solving, and deep, focused thinking. In this post, we’ll look at the consequences of our busyness, the benefits of pausing to think, and suggestions for integrating some think time into your office culture.

The Price of Busyness

Contemporary work culture often puts busyness on a pedestal. We see value in being needed at all times of the day. We check email early in the morning and late at night and feel pressured to respond to messages quickly. However, this constant activity doesn’t allow room for quiet reflection, long-term strategic planning, or thoughtful decision-making.

Cal Newport, author of the bestselling book Deep Work, believes the rise of network tools — email, text messaging, social media, and web-based news sources – leads to “shallow work,” which tends to be logistical and requires little mental effort. “Deep work,” on the other hand, pushes the limits of one’s cognitive abilities, requires chunks of uninterrupted time, and has led great thinkers such as Carl Jung and Bill Gates, whom Cal profiles in his book, to do their best work.

In addition to contributing to shallow work, the constant stimuli and barrage of information leave our brains little time and space for creative thinking. The daily problems we encounter often require a new perspective, but that’s difficult to find when we’re busy responding to the latest instant message.

Additionally, when we’re distracted by the constant communication of our colleagues or customers, unintended errors and mistakes often occur. Finally, this ‘always-on’ feeling leads to stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, which contributes to employee burnout and a decrease in mental health and emotional well-being.

Creating Time to Think

How can we create time in our work days for thoughtful reflection? Here are a few practices to consider integrating into your weekly work schedule:

Schedule time for quiet reflection

Block out chunks of time in your calendar free from interruptions to allow time for thinking. Consider using this time to ponder a specific problem or client issue or give yourself uninterrupted time to think about your work day.

Keep a notebook or journal on your desk

If you have a few minutes between client calls or meetings, rather than scrolling through your email, take a few minutes to reflect in writing. Journal a few sentences about the meeting, client, or task, and see what new ideas come to you as you write.

Take a walk

Encourage walking meetings or take a solitary walk without your phone. The great thinkers of our time have all been firm believers in the power of walks to solve problems and cultivate innovative thinking.

Turn off notifications for some time

Cal Newport sees the value of work time without interruptions in email and instant messaging. Try turning off notifications for an hour while you’re working and then reflect on the quality of the work you were able to accomplish during that time. Or consider adopting one of Cal’s practices and setting three times during your day to read and respond to emails.

Creating an office culture that prioritizes thinking isn’t about slowing down; it’s about changing how we work. It’s about working smarter, not harder. Encouraging employees to integrate daily time for reflection on their work will inspire them to see more value in their work. An office culture prioritizing reflection will open itself to increased innovation, improved decision-making, and a healthier and happier workforce.

Are you seeking solutions that will help you and your employees work smarter, and not harder? Applied Innovation’s imaging experts are ready to discover a solution to meet your institution’s unique needs. Contact one of Applied’s print specialists in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, or Tampa, Florida.

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