Thinking First

Thinking First, Doing Later
What is the most frequently heard complaint in business? How about, "I don't have enough time?" Do you say it to yourself? Do you say it to other people? Do you take work home? Do you return to work on the weekends? Do you identify the cause of the complaint of not having enough time? After all, we all have the same amount of time in every 24-hour period. Now, let's turn the complaint around. How do you use your time?
ANSWERING THE QUESTION - For starters, look at your calendar for the last week or month. What occupied the bulk of your time,
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  • And I don't mean just writing down? What do you remember of each event? How many meetings did you attend? How many of those meetings were simply up-dates of past work or on-going work? How many phone conversations did you have? What was the purpose of those calls? How many people were involved simultaneously in the calls? How many lunches were on your calendar? What was accomplished during those lunches? Get a sense of what gobbles-up your time, especially what is non-productive.
    If you do not maintain a calendar, take any work-day and document how you use your time. To see patterns, divide the day into modules that are small enough for you to identify wasted time. Fifteen minutes is a good working module. Record everything, even the "snack breaks." At the end of the day, ask yourself, "If I were leaving for vacation to Paris on an airplane tomorrow morning, how would I have changed my day?" Do not allow yourself to move "work" to your vacation. Be brutally honest.
    WHAT'S MISSING - Chances are good that no time was set aside specifically for thinking. Everything was DOING! However, thinking, especially before doing, accelerates your doing.
    For example, suppose someone asked you to move a pile of dirt from Point A to Point B,can inhibit both personal growth and growth in relationships. Here is the list. How would you complete the task? What steps would you go through? Whatever the situation, ask questions for clarification. These are mostly Yes/No questions. Do you care what the pile looks like at Point B? Do you have a preference for how the pile is moved? Must the entire pile be moved to Point B? Is there anything you want us to NOT do? Is there anything you want us to avoid? Clarification, even if detailed to the point of being picky, takes just a couple of minutes. In the end the job is done the way the pile owner wanted it done. Sadly, the rule of the workplace is there is never enough time to do something correctly the first time. Yet, there is always time to fix it later.
    PLAN YOUR THINKING TIME - One, establish a thinking module that you can insert regularly into each day. Personally, I find that I can generally protect, without interruption, at least one 15-minute module during each day. No phone calls accepted. No instant messages read. Only thinking about my chosen focus. On good days, I can carve out bigger modules of time for focused thinking.
    Two, establish a thinking agenda. Generally, I start with a "frustration" agenda. These may be problems that I am facing or ones for which I have responsibility,1984 Ugg Fox Fur Tall Chestnut Boots. These may also be ideas that I want to develop for future programs, services, products, etc. These may also be "wish lists" of things I wish I could get to. These may also be priorities that I must address.
    Three, whatever your choice, ask any clarification questions of yourself that come to mind. Write them down. If you do not write them, they have a funny way of flying away on even the most gentle breeze - especially if your 15 minutes expires.
    Four, answer all of your clarification questions. Then document what additional questions came to mind that were not specifically for clarification. These most frequently are HOW and WHY questions. Answer the HOW questions first. The answers you get may refocus your thinking on the WHY questions.
    Five, with the clarification complete, you are now free to think about who else should be involved in thinking about your choice. When you have them identified, send them a message - convene a meeting, if you must - that you would like them to spend at least 15-minutes a day for the next five days thinking about how to "deal" with the "frustration." Ask each person to write one idea each day and send it to a designated person who will compile all of the suggestions. (If you regularly use project management software, post the compilations there. If you do not have a simple software, check out for their BaseCamp product,5685 Ugg Fox Fur Short Grey Boots.) The compiler then forwards the list of ideas to everyone who contributed.
    At the end of the week, prepare a total list of the ideas. Ask your idea people to vote for the top three that they believe should be moved forward for additional thinking. File the non-selected items for future thinking adventures.
    Six, with much significant thinking completed, take the top three ideas and repeat the process,It's a common occurrence. What additional thinkers should be included? Your original thinkers can offer suggestions. Repeat the process as long as you are getting quality ideas or you are expanding your group of thinkers. At some point, when you feel you are ready to move to decision-making and execution, close the idea session.
    MOVING TO THE FUTURE - As you close the endeavor, ask your idea-providers how the process worked for them. Identify participants who would like to be included in future thinking events,5685 Ugg Fox Fur Short Black Boots. Continuing, ask what changes they would make to the process, how they would evaluate their sense of productivity during the thinking event, what items they believe should be the next focus, how should people be chosen to participate in the next thinking event?
    Finally, take a quiet moment for yourself to reflect on the thinking process and the thinking event. You were all "DOING the THINKING." Was everyone working? You betcha! Big time! And, the brains of most of the participants returned repeatedly to thinking about their focus throughout the day and week, well beyond the stipulated 15-minute module. Chances are good that everyone felt excited about the thinking and about the possible outcomes of the thinking.
    If you lead by showing that you value thinking, others will follow you. By contrast, if you lead by showing that you value doing-without-thinking, people will mirror your behavior. Remember, thinking is exciting. Learning about "collective thinking" as a productivity tool is incredibly valuable and powerful. Now, ask yourself how you can use the "Thinking First" positioning to shorten the "work-week" while increasing productivity throughout your company. Thinking first accelerates your doing, your best doing!