One of my personal goals is to improve my thinking abilities. This is a pretty big deal for me because as a team leader, I must be able to analyze problems, evaluate different solutions, and make informed decisions. I also need to be able to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas.
I’m striving to become a better thinker not only for work but for my personal life. I believe it’s one of those skills that will help me achieve greater success in various aspects of my life.
In today’s world can be so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of everyday life. I don’t know about you but I feel the need to rush, to be constantly busy, and to always be productive. We’re often in a rush to make decisions too and because of that, we don’t have the mental space to think.
So here are a few things I do to get mental space and become a better thinker:
Clear the clutter
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by physical and mental clutter! It often leaves me feeling anxious and stressed. By taking the time to clear away unnecessary items from my desk (and mind) I can create more space for creativity and clarity.
So take a look at your surroundings and eliminate anything that is not serving you. To declutter my mind I write down my thoughts and tasks, which not only helps me remember everything but also creates mental space for me to focus on more important matters.
Whenever someone comes to me with a problem or feedback, I try to take the time to listen carefully and ask good questions. Sometimes it can be hard to resist the urge to jump in with solutions right away, but listening is the best way to gain a deeper understanding.
When we actively listen to others, we get to hear different perspectives and ideas that we might have missed otherwise. This, in turn, helps us come up with more comprehensive solutions that take into account a wider range of factors. Plus, active listening shows respect and appreciation for the speaker, which is super important in building trust and a collaborative atmosphere within the team.
Hold off on making certain choices
Delaying some decisions can also be beneficial. As a team leader, it’s important to be decisive, but sometimes it makes sense to take a step back and gather more information before making a big decision.
Making quick decisions can be tempting, especially when we’re feeling pressured or stressed. But in reality, it’s often better to give ourselves some time and space to think things through. This can help us avoid rash decisions that we might regret later on. So, if you’re feeling unsure about a choice, don’t be afraid to hit the pause button and take some time to reflect. You might be surprised at the insights and clarity that come with a little bit of patience.
Put first things first
Many times we focus on urgent tasks rather than important ones, and as a result, we can neglect the things that will truly move the needle in our life and at work. Since we only have a limited amount of time and energy, it’s important to focus on what really matters!
To prioritize, you can follow these steps:
- Identify your long-term goals: Think about what you want to achieve in the long run, both personally and professionally.
- Break down your goals: Break down your long-term goals into smaller, actionable steps that will help you achieve them.
- Evaluate urgency and importance: Prioritize tasks based on their level of urgency and importance. Urgent tasks may require immediate attention, but important tasks may have a greater impact on achieving your long-term goals.
- Focus on high-impact tasks: Prioritize tasks that have a high impact on achieving your goals, rather than those that may be easy or quick to accomplish.
- Reassess regularly: Reassess your priorities regularly to ensure that you’re on track and that your actions are aligned with your goals.
Let your subconscious take the reins
Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to take a break from thinking about it altogether. By allowing our minds to rest and recharge, we can tap into our subconscious and come up with new and innovative ideas.
Our subconscious is like a secret superhero working behind the scenes, controlling automatic behaviors, habits, and emotions without us even realizing it. It’s like having a massive multitasking machine that keeps going even when we’re sleeping!
When we let our subconscious work on a problem, it taps into all the past experiences, knowledge, and ideas that we may not have consciously considered, making connections that can lead to innovative solutions. But to unleash our subconscious’s creativity and innovation, we need to give it the space and time to work.
So whenever I’m feeling stuck on a problem, I take a break and do something else for a while. You might be surprised by the creative solutions that come to you when you return to the problem later!
Meditation and mindfulness
I try to practice mindful meditation every day. I heard many times people saying “Meditation doesn’t work for me, I can’t empty my mind”. Of course, you can’t!
Meditation is not about emptying your mind or achieving a state of complete stillness. Instead, it’s about being aware of your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings without judgment or attachment.
It’s normal for thoughts and distractions to arise. The practice is to acknowledge them without getting caught up in them, and then redirect your attention back to the present moment.
Mindfulness can make you a better thinker by improving your ability to focus and concentrate on the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully engaged in the present, and your mind is less likely to wander or become distracted. This sense of focus helps me pay more attention to details, connect ideas more effectively, and make better decisions. Besides, it helps me to cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness, which can lead to more creative and innovative thinking.
Make Time for Reflection
I try to schedule some time in my calendar for quiet and uninterrupted thinking. It can be challenging to break away from the constant rush of daily life, but I find it essential. I try to dedicate at least half a day per week to just reflecting and thinking.
According to John Frost of Values-Based Leadership, one effective method for reflection is to ask ourselves four simple questions:
- What happened, and why did it happen that way?
- How did I think and feel about it?
- What did I learn from this experience?
- What changes will I make based on this learning?
Allocating time for introspection has helped me gain deeper insights, identify priorities, and avoid repeating the same mistakes.
In my own experience, taking the time to slow down and be mindful has been a game-changer for my thinking skills. By carving out some quiet time for reflection, clearing out the mental clutter, and incubating ideas, I’ve been able to think more deeply and come up with some of my best ideas. And let’s not forget the power of meditation. It may feel counterintuitive in our fast-paced world, but trust me, it’s worth it.