Life Lessons Tips

Schedule thinking time

I came across a brilliant tip the other day and thought I would share with all my readers. The tip is quite simple, it says that we should schedule thinking time.

Schedule thinking time

Look at your calendar the last 12 months, how many meetings and commitments are on your calendar? Now look again and figure out how many of these meetings and commitments are scheduled so you can sit there alone and think about how to tackle your problems?

If you are like me, you probably have not scheduled any thinking time to tackle your problems.

Why do we want to schedule thinking time? Because most people fail to identify what the problem actually is. People do what the problem isn’t.

For example, you want to lose weight so you read and buy diet books. But the problem isn’t finding the right diet book. The problem is that you are taking in too much calories and not exercise enough.

Another example, you want to retire early so you hire a financial advisor and start investing. One year later, your investment didn’t yield good returns, so you fire the advisor and hire another one. The problem isn’t finding the right advisor. The problem is that you have no knowledge about how to retire early and you have no desire to control your own destiny.

So how do we schedule thinking time? The idea is very simple, schedule 30 minutes of thinking time, two or three times a week. Create a known routine like sitting in your thinking chair, using your thinking pen, or putting on a thinking cap during your thinking time. Make sure nobody disturbs you during this time and remove yourself from any distractions so you can really think.

The most important step – before starting your thinking time, write down a question that you want to think about.

You want to avoid asking yourself a stupid question, because you will just waste your time.

Some stupid questions include asking yourself why my sales are not enough, why your investments are not making any money, or why you are not making more money. (Or why the blog is not getting any traffic 🙂 )

We don’t want to schedule thinking time to think about stupid questions. Time is too precious, don’t waste it.

Ask yourself, what is the problem? Is it because not enough people know about me, hence the poor sale? Did I not do sufficient research or have enough knowledge prior to making the investment? Is it because I am not negotiating my salary?

Conflicting thoughts

When you are thinking hard about the one question that you wrote down, it is also important to practice conflicting thoughts. Ask yourself – what don’t I see, why should and shouldn’t I do this? For example, if your question is related to whether you should invest in a stock, you must be ready to argue both sides. You need to be able to argue why and why you shouldn’t invest very strongly. The quality of your decision is directly proportional to the number of conflicting thoughts you can simultaneously entertain.

When I first heard about this tip I was very intrigued but at the same time skeptical. I am happy to announce that I have tried scheduling thinking time a number of times. So far the results are pretty amazing. It’s pretty cool how much you can accomplish in the short 30 minutes, when removing yourself from any distractions and ask yourself a good question to think about.

So please give it a try, schedule thinking time today and start tackling one problem at a time. 🙂

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    brian503
    August 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I tend to do a lot of my thinking in my car, but don’t have a good way of collecting my ideas. Scheduling so time in a quiet area sounds like a great idea.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 11, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      I do a lot of thinking while driving to work too but don’t have ways to write down my ideas. Schedule thinking time allows me to write down things that I think about.

  • Reply
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes
    August 11, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Great tip!

    I do most of my thinking when I go on my daily walks. Distractions are minimal in the middle of the day (most people are at work), so it makes for great thinking time!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 11, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      That’s a great idea. Perhaps you should call your walks “thinking walks.”

    • Reply
      Matt @ Optimize Your Life
      August 13, 2016 at 10:01 am

      This. I find that lots of great ideas come to me while I am walking. I have a notepad app on my phone that I use if I am worried that I will forget something while I am out.

      • Reply
        Tawcan
        August 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

        Great tip on having a notepad app on your phone so you can write down some notes. I do that while walking too.

  • Reply
    weenie
    August 12, 2016 at 4:55 am

    Most of my thinking is done in my car too during my commutes to/from work.

    In fact, when I eventually no longer need to commute, I will have to schedule some alternative ‘thinking’ time.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      I do a lot of thinking on my commutes to/from work too but often find there are too many distractions.

  • Reply
    Team CF
    August 12, 2016 at 7:10 am

    “Schedule thinking time”, i’ve got two 30 min time slots each day for that, it’s called my daily commute 😉

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Me too but what I’m talking about here is non-disturbed thinking time. Daily commutes give us time to think about things but often we can’t focus 100% on thinking only.

      • Reply
        Team CF
        August 16, 2016 at 10:11 am

        I actually have the idea that I’m able to focus close to 100% on thinking. Some of the best ideas form during the commute. But you are fair in saying that focussing can be difficult as you may need to keep your eyes on the road too.

        • Reply
          Tawcan
          August 16, 2016 at 11:06 am

          I do some of my thinking on the road too but just can’t focus my thoughts 100%. Don’t want to get into an accident. :

  • Reply
    Mrs. PIE
    August 12, 2016 at 8:54 am

    my commute helps too, but I have noticed that when I listen to Audiobooks I miss out on that valuable thinking time. The other valuable time that i think needs to be scheduled is planning and research time. Mr. PIE and I have a number of things we need to plan and research, from travel hacking to cutting our cable bill. things that take some dedicated time and thought, which is a rare commodity in a busy family!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Plan and research definitely require some scheduled thinking time rather than just doing them on the way to/from work. 🙂

  • Reply
    FinanceSuperhero
    August 12, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Very wise advice, Tawcan. Quiet time dedicated to thinking and reflection is valuable for people in all walks of life. I tend to have mine during a long run around the neighborhood or more recently, driving on the way to or from an appointment with a client. I think an added benefit of scheduled thinking time is that it allows us to be more present with our loved ones rather than letting our minds wander at inappropriate times.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      That’s cool you do your thinking time during a long run around the neighbourhood. Thinking time definitely allows us to stay more focused.

  • Reply
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank
    August 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    I would schedule 30-minute schedule thinking time to ponder on what goals and plans I still need to achieve before the 2016 ends. I know I’d get some surprising results and realizations. Thanks Taw for letting us know this strategy!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Glad to have helped!

  • Reply
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions
    August 13, 2016 at 5:11 am

    I love this idea! I think we are so wired to multi-task now that “tackling one problem at a time” is a thing of the past for most people. A little focus and think time can go a long way but I definitely need to schedule it!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Tackling one problem at a time allows us to stay more focused. Multi-task is great and all but for some tasks, staying focused is better.

  • Reply
    Mike Drak
    August 13, 2016 at 7:33 am

    My best thinking happens in the shower. i can’t help but laugh at the number of times I couldn’t remember if I shampooed my hair or not becuse my mind had been focused on something.. Thinking makes you focus and takes you out of your normal routine which is a good thing in my opinion.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Haha that’s a good one Mike. I tend to be still waking up when I take a shower in the morning. However, I find myself putting a mental to-do list for the day during shower. I suppose you can call that thinking time too.

  • Reply
    DiviCents
    August 13, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Great read!

    I live about 30 mins away from work and some days I take well over an hour to get home because this is my Scheduled thinking time!

    I like going to Belcarra in winter time and driving though the mossy forest past white pine. Clears the head!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks DivCents. Thinking time is great. 🙂

  • Reply
    Finance Solver
    August 13, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    One thing that I regret not doing in college is scheduling time to go over my goals and making sure that the goals I am working towards are the goals that I want to be achieving. Scheduling thinking time to make sure that we go over what we actually want is so important and I wish I would have stumbled upon your thought 4 years ago, but better late than never right? Thanks for the thought-provoking article!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      August 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      I would have done a lot better in university if I had received this great tip. Going over the goals and making sure you’re taking the right steps/actions to achieve these goals is another reason why schedule thinking time is so important.

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