Life gets busy. We can easily get mired in getting the work done – executing projects, attending meetings, and responding to deadlines, not to mention the daily challenge of clearing our inboxes and responding to urgent requests. If you’re singularly focused on getting things done, it’s easy to stay in motion and not take time to think about the bigger picture, strategic issues, innovative solutions, relationships, or your career and personal goals. What we neglect to think about are actually the things that will make the most difference in our lives in the long run. They fall into the category that Steven Covey calls “important and not urgent.” If you don’t address them today, you probably won’t suffer in the short term, but if you neglect them over time you will suffer in the long term. Set aside time to think about the important and not urgent things in your life.
In order to make space for thinking, block time off on your calendar and give it the same priority as a meeting with an important client. Create an agenda to help keep yourself on task. Ask yourself questions like: How does what I’m doing fit into the big picture? How can I bring more value to my team, my organization, or this client? What are some other business opportunities? What do I need to do to exceed expectations? Who would I like to meet or connect with to expand my relationship network? Are the ways I’m spending my time helping me reach my goals? How’s my energy level and what can I do to help sustain it? Am I spending the time I want to spend with the people who matter the most to me, and how can I do better? After you’ve asked the questions, give yourself time to find the answers and create an action plan. Then, move purposefully into action, armed with the insights and clarity you’ve achieved by taking the time to think.