The Importance of Making Time to Think – Al Getler
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – James Allen
One of my best times to think is while I cut our lawn or blow snow out of our driveway. I live in upper New England, so there are times I can do both in the same day. The din of the motor sends me to a place I rarely reach at other times. Add in an audio book where another’s thoughts are shared and then I am really in the zone.
Last year I bought a walk-behind mower to replace our tractor. Our wonderful neighbors Al and Amy offer me their ride-on, sleek John Deere mower. Occasionally I take them up on the offer on hot summer days or when my schedule is tight. But I feel like I am cheating myself out of my best thinking time.
My mechanical thinking aid may resemble Tim Allen’s TV sitcom character Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Tim used his tool time to solve all types of problems in the allotted 23 minutes and often with hilarious results. Some of my problems take hours of walking back and forth in neat rows in the hot sun. I love it.
The Plastic Appendage Distraction
Like a lot of people I know, I have an email, text and smart phone issue. Recently I read in a blog post that smart phone users check their phone every 15 minutes on average. I can’t last 5 minutes.
Technology has stolen my thinking time. Rather, I have allowed technology to become the tool that thinks for me; tells me what I will do and even feel next. If an email pisses me off, then that is where I have allowed myself to go. And while I am consciously trying to change, it takes time. I had an easier time quitting smoking almost 20 years ago.
The Importance of Making Time to Think
It doesn’t matter whether it is behind a lawn mower, in the shower, sitting in a chair or going for a walk, you need to make time to think and to reflect.
Author John C. Maxwell writes, “Reflective thinking is like the crock-pot of the mind. It encourages your thoughts to simmer until they are done”.
Without time to think and reflect, I can’t move to a new place. My best thoughts, my best ideas come when I am away from the iPhone, away from the laptop and doing something that takes requires my complete attention.
Location. Location. Location.
Sitting in front of a body of water is another place I can think and reflect. While I prefer the Atlantic Ocean, I will take a lake or river as a substitute. I can sit for quite awhile allowing the movement of the water and the flickers of light to carry me away. I have learned to leave the plastic appendage in the car and replace it with a notebook and pencil.
So how about you? Have you figured out where you do your best thinking and reflecting time?
The best thing about your answer is it can be a completely different location from someone else’s.
One winter Sunday afternoon I was especially troubled with a heavy load of thinking and reflecting to do. My notebook and I ended up in a very busy coffee shop in a New Hampshire port city. The whirl of activity was the perfect place to think, take in the activity and let the background noise carry me away. The coffee helped as well.
Make the Time
Please don’t wait for your spouse, your family or your boss to tell you to make time to think. I don’t recall anyone ever walking up to me and saying, “Hey Al, looks like you can use some thinking time!” It just doesn’t happen.
Carve out thinking and reflecting time in your day, your week and your month. Give it five or ten minutes a day. Allow yourself an additional half hour a week. Gift yourself a couple of hours each month.
You don’t need incense, a mountain top and a bearded old man to dig deeper into your thoughts. You just need a place and a time. Take a notebook along to capture your thoughts and think.
Where you think and how you think isn’t as important as making time to think.
“Thinking for a Change” by John C. Maxwell is a great book on the power of thinking. Maxwell provides suggestions for several ways to think and provides a roadmap for your thoughts. See his material HERE.
How do you schedule your thinking time? Where do you think? Do you keep a journal? Do you solve problems, reflect or just sit quietly? Share your thoughts in the Disqus section after this post or by clicking HERE if you are reading it in an email.