Episode 134: Thinking Time

Don’t Rush It: Why Slowing Down Can Speed Up Progress

Have you ever been driving somewhere while engrossed in a conversation only to realize too late that you missed a crucial turn? And now your arrival time is significantly delayed?

This happens in business too.

Your driving destination represents your business goals and the engrossed conversation (the one that made you miss your turn) are all the various distractions and day-to-day demands of running your business.

Just as a conversation can distract you from your drive, a lack of focused thinking time can lead to delayed progress, missed milestones, or even veering away from intended business objectives.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • The importance of thinking time in your business
  • The most common reasons business owners fail to incorporate thinking time
  • 5 Strategies to help you get that crucial thinking time
  • What to actually think about

I want you to imagine that you're on a road trip to the beach, excited to soak up the sun and enjoy a relaxing day. And then once you get on the road, you decide to make a phone call to catch up with a dear friend. The conversation is so engaging and captivating, and you get so engrossed in that conversation that you become oblivious to the directions given by your GPS. Now, this is a true story. It has happened to me and unbeknownst to me, the sound on my GPS was turned off. Plus, it doesn't announce the upcoming turns when you're on the phone. And so, lost in the conversation, I missed a crucial turn that would have led me to the most direct route to the beach. It's only when I happened to glance up at the GPS screen that I noticed that my estimated time of arrival was significantly delayed 40 minutes later than expected.

I had been driving an additional 40 minutes out of the way. In this story, I want you to imagine that the drive to the beach represents your business goals and the phone conversation symbolizes all of the various distractions and the day to day demands of running your business. The GPS, well, that represents big picture thinking, strategic planning and direction setting decision making which guide you towards your desired destination. Just as I missed that crucial turn while engrossed in the conversation, the lack of focused thinking time can lead to delayed progress, missed milestones, or even veering away from intended business objectives. So, I want you to think about thinking time as an opportunity to periodically and hopefully regularly check in with your business goals, to problem solve your biggest obstacles and make informed decisions so that you can ensure a smoother journey and arrive at your desired destination in a more timely and efficient manner. Okay, so thinking time, that's what I want to talk about today because a lot of business owners do not spend enough time thinking and there are a few reasons why. First of all, I know that there are many operational demands. Running a business often involves juggling a lot of responsibilities and tasks, and it's easy to find yourself caught up in the day to day operations, putting out fires, managing all the minutiae.

This operational focus might leave you little time for strategic thinking and reflection. Another reason why you might not be spending enough time thinking is a perceived lack of time. You may think that you don't have time available to dedicate to thinking. You might perceive that your time is limited, but you have time for what you make time for when you feel overwhelmed by your workload. You might believe that thinking is a luxury that you just can't afford, that you just don't have time for. But this mindset can lead to continuous neglect of thinking time because you never have time. If you always think you don't have time, you won't find the time right, you won't make the time. Another reason is emphasis on action and results.

Business owners are driven by a desire to achieve tangible outcomes and results. My clients constantly want to achieve. But maybe you're prioritizing taking action and focusing on immediate tasks rather than investing time to think. The pressure to constantly be doing and constantly be achieving can overshadow the importance of taking time to think and reflect. Another reason is the fear of slowing down. Some of you fear taking time for thinking because you think it might slow down your progress or hinder your ability to jump on new opportunities. When actually there's this mechanism where when you slow down it's like a slingshot that's pulling back. You slow down but then once you release you're slowing down to speed up, right? So I want you to keep that analogy in mind with the slingshot.

You're not going to slow down. Don't be afraid that this is forever. You might feel like it's a waste of time on the front end and then sacrifice time later that could have been avoided because you waste time on the back end redoing things or figuring out how to solve problems, that kind of thing. I know that you love to come up with new ideas but sometimes you need to sit back, you need to plan, you need to think and make sure that those ideas are going to be sustainable before you dive right in and implement. So slowing down again to speed up and then lack of accountability. Some of you don't have a support system or a process in place to hold you accountable. Maybe you think that you would like to spend time thinking. Maybe you know that dedicating time to thinking would be a good thing for you and your business but you find it easier to neglect your responsibility to think.

And yes, I said responsibility because as a CEO, as a business owner, it is your responsibility to be thinking about what's to come, to be thinking about the future. And without that support or reinforcement it becomes easier to prioritize other tasks over thinking time. Okay, so those are some of the most common reasons that I see that business owners don't spend enough time thinking. Now what are some strategies to help you? If you do want to spend more time thinking? What do you need to do? First, this is going to sound obvious, but prioritize allocate dedicated time in your schedule for thinking and reflection. Treat it as a non negotiable aspect of your role. This might mean blocking off time on your calendar. It might mean you need to add a task to your project management system. Whatever you need, put it in your workload and value it at the same level or a higher level than all of the other minutiae that you're focused on.

Next, delegate. Delegate tasks and responsibilities to team members to allow you to elevate your role to a CEO to the business owner to focus on more strategic thinking. You need to get things off of your plate so that you can level up what you're spending your time on and spend your time on those CEO level tasks. Next, set clear goals and objectives. I don't want you to just go and think about random things. I want you to clearly define your desired outcomes of your thinking time. What do you want to come out of it? Set an intention, link it to long term strategic objectives, and this is going to remind you of its importance, and it's going to minimize your chances of skipping it. So instead of just having a block of time, this thinking time, you can designate an intention for that time where when you finish that block of time, you want to have solved something or you want to have some new ideas, but whatever it is, you want to have a result that is clearly defined for that time.

If it's just random thinking time, you're definitely going to minimize it and skip it. And so I want you to avoid that by getting clear on what that time should be spent on. And then I want you to develop systems. I want you to establish processes or routines that are going to facilitate thinking time. Such as I'll give you a couple of things that I like to do. I like to book in regular strategic planning sessions. I like to build it into project plans before a big project. I have strategic planning time.

I also like to take dedicated time away for CEO retreats. I like to do that every quarter to think about the business, and I like to do that preceding our strategic planning for the quarter. Okay, so build in those processes or routines so that you don't skip over the thinking time that is so critical to a certain project or to the business or to planning. And then lastly, seek external support. If you want structured guidance to plan or to stretch your vision or to solve big problems, don't hesitate to get support. And not only don't hesitate, like, run to that support, go get the support that you need. My clients are always surprised by how much we can accomplish together when they have support, whether that's in a full day, like VIP session or whether that's in a quick voice memo between coaching calls. And we just exchange some thoughts.

When they take the time to not just think, but to share that thinking to receive decision support, they always move forward faster. They always get so much done. So if you're wondering what it looks like to get that support, don't hesitate to reach out. Ask. Let us know, and we'll give you some options. Okay? If you are thinking, okay, Kathryn, I hear you on spending time to think. I hear you on why I need to do this. I'm sold if you're thinking, okay, I can even use these strategies to prioritize the time.

But what do I spend time thinking about? What do I actually need to spend my time on? Well, I'm going to give you a few big picture categories here and I also want to give you another action item and that is go follow me on Instagram. I like to share CEO thinking prompts in my IG stories. And these are CEO level business questions that you can sit with, that you can journal on, that you can reflect on, and that are going to call you to think bigger. Okay? They're going to stretch your thinking. And so go check those out. We post those regularly. But for now, here are some of the big picture categories. What can you spend time thinking about? Well, when you sit down to think, I want you to do these things.

I want you to identify areas for improvement. I want you to think about what needs to improve in the business, what can improve in the business, what you want to see done differently. I want you to determine solutions to your biggest problems. You don't need to be the one to solve every problem in your business, but the biggest problems are probably going to fall to you to some degree. So spend some time thinking about solutions. You don't have to implement those solutions, but you need to be a part of the thinking about what the solutions can be. Okay? I also want you to identify new opportunities. I want you to look for things that not just that you're already doing that can be improved, but things that you're not yet doing.

Things that could move the needle that you haven't even tried. And then maybe you need to spend some time making strategic decisions. A lot of times clients put offer delay decisions that need to be made and they hold their business back because they're not taking action on the thing that they need to make a decision on because they're waiting for that decision, yet they're not spending the time to make that decision. So prioritize making strategic decisions. Also explore alternatives. Maybe something is working really well in your business, but it could be done in a different way. Take the opportunity to think about that, to imagine what the other possibilities are and just to consider what a different approach might do or how it might benefit your business. Okay.

Also spend some time stretching your vision. You should be thinking further ahead than your team. So if you are thinking about the work that your team is doing today and that's the primary thing that you're thinking about, if not everything that you're thinking about, then that's a problem. You need to be thinking further ahead. Okay? You need to stay ahead of your team. You also need to stay ahead of the curve in general in your market or ahead of competition. And so another thing you can think about is how to do that, how to stay ahead, how to innovate, how to evolve, how to make sure that you are consistently improving, getting better, trying new things, and staying ahead of everyone and everything else out there. This doesn't mean to sit in a space of comparison and research.

Just think about what you could do that would be innovative and different, something that you've never seen before. Okay? Those are some things you can spend some time thinking about. So I just want to remind you, thinking time is not a luxury. It is not a waste of time. It is a necessity that benefits you, your team, and your business overall. If you're not spending time thinking about your business consistently, I recommend blocking off a day or two to get out of the day to day and go focus on your business. Okay? Go schedule that time and I will see you next week.

Next Steps

  • Sign up for The Brief HERE and get weekly CEO-level strategies and resources to help you scale

Let’s Connect

Listen + Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher

We’d greatly appreciate a podcast rating and review so we can reach more entrepreneurs like you!

  • Search for the podcast in your podcast app (The Elevate Effect™)
  • Scroll down and click 5 stars
  • Tap “Write a Review” & enter a brief review
  • Press send

Send me a screenshot of your review (DM me on Instagram or email hello@kathrynbinkley.com) and I’ll give you free access to my CEO Scorecard. This is the same tool I use with my multiple 6 and 7 figure clients to help them uplevel their role as CEO and achieve massive results.

Related Posts