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Thinking Time – Idea Time


I left the house the other morning early for a 90 minute drive. Driving time often generates the topics for my weekly emails. This trip was no different. Driving into a sunrise – well that was just a bonus, inspiring, and thought provoking.

I got to my destination, pulled out my journal, and did a quick brain dump. Wow – incredible. The drive time was productive and generated a number of great ideas.

As I was jotting these ideas down I began to consider my ‘thinking time’, what works for me, and what might work for you. 

  • Thinking time is my idea time – my pondering time. 
  • Thinking time is what fills my journal with ideas. 

In this fast paced crazy world, carving time out for ‘thinking time’ can be tough. It can be difficult for hard charging high achieving individuals to get quality thinking time. Between work and family our minds are always racing – balancing and evaluating priorities, to-dos, schedules, and the like. We all have these constant distractions, distractions that can sabotage creative thinking time.

We are encouraged to set aside quiet time. Let us not get confused. Quiet time is important, but it is not the same as ‘thinking time’. Let me repeat – Quiet time is not the same as ‘thinking time’!


For what it’s worth – my quality ‘thinking time’:

  • Driving time: 20 minutes or 2 hours doesn’t matter. Driving for most of us is a rote experience – we are pretty much on auto pilot. This is especially true for drives that we are familiar with. Driving time creates an opportunity without distractions. Lock your phone in the glove box – no texting, no email, no surfing, no phone calls. Turn off the radio. Enjoy the drive – enjoy the scenery – and let the thoughts flow.
  • Lunch time: My friends know that lunch time is my time – dedicated time each week.  With all due respect to Keith Ferrazzi, “Never Eat Alone” fame, I eat lunch alone. But it’s not just about lunch. The most valuable part of my lunch time is a brisk walk before I eat. The mere act of a brisk walk serves to eliminate distractions. The physical component keeps the blood pumping – good oxygenation to the brain is good for creative thinking. Lunch is the debrief time, the opportunity to capture ideas in your journal. Bonus, and who doesn’t love a bonus – physical activity before and after you eat is also good for your health.
  • Coffee shop time: When travelling – I always (well almost always) allow extra time to allow for possible travelling delays, meeting over runs, and the like. This often creates valuable downtime, free from the normal distractions. This is time away from the office, away from the phone, and away from your smartphone – you get to decide. This downtime is great quality thinking time.

Friends tell me that their daily run or bike ride is an important component of their ‘thinking time’.


This Week

Consider trying a couple of these tips to create or enhance your ‘thinking time’.

  • Turn off the radio when you are driving. Everyone who has taken this simple step is amazed at the positive impact on driving / thinking time. 
  • Try a personal lunch time (or breakfast time) at least twice a week. 
  • Take a long walk or bike ride – without your smart phone.

Give yourself permission to think freely – no agenda – no deadlines – no expectations.

. . . go have an Awesome Week!

Tom Trabue

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