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Taking Time to Think

A gift worth giving yourself.

Jacob Botter, Flickr, CC 2.0
Source: Jacob Botter, Flickr, CC 2.0

A client lamented, "I'm buried in career and family responsibilities. I don't have time to think.”

He's right to lament that. Time to think is an under-considered must. Of course, it can be of tactical benefit: helping you come up with a better solution to your problems du jour. But thinking-time also facilitates thoughtful big-picture solutions. We tend to just put one foot in front of the other and before we know it, years have passed and we're in that same career, relationships, or have the same approach to living, when thinking-time might have helped us realize that we need a change, perhaps a major one.

Besides such concrete benefits, thinking-time is calming and gives us additional control over our life, something that many people would relish.

Finding the time

My client said that he didn’t have time to think. Yet when I asked him if he could find time in any of the following, he said, absolutely yes. Might one or more these work for you?

  • While walking the dog, on a hike, or from the car or bus to your destination.
  • While waiting for the elevator, at a doctor’s office, in the supermarket line.
  • When bored. You could add thinking-time to your existing options, for example, eating or turning on the TV.
  • While in bed, perhaps just before going to bed or when you first wake.
  • Asking your family for a bit of quiet time, for example, when you get home from work or on a weekend morning.

Making it happen

If you want to make thinking-time a habit, try one or more of these tools for habituation:

  • Make it easy. What time of day would you most easily find a few minutes for thinking-time? You might decide to not make thinking-time a daily must but merely, when you have a few minutes, giving yourself an option other than vegging.
  • Remind yourself that you deserve thinking-time. As mentioned, you’ll better address problems and have a more considered approach to your life’s big issues.
  • Create a motivational mantra that you’d say each time you drink something, for example, “I deserve thinking-time.”
  • Tie the new habit to something you never skip. For example, you might decide to allow yourself a few minutes of uninterrupted thinking time right before dinner or bedtime.
  • Create accountability. Tell one or more people that you’re trying the experiment of allowing yourself a few minutes of thinking-time each day and that you’ll report daily on how you’re doing until the practice is habituated or you decide to discontinue it.

The takeaway

Few gifts are as beneficial, pleasurable, and no-cost as thinking-time. You might .want to give yourself that gift.

I read this aloud on YouTube.