I don’t have time to think

“I don’t have time to think” has to be one of the things that I hear from founders often.

Today’s world doesn’t help you:

– Overwork is normalized
– Being “just so busy” is a badge of honor (so if you’re not – what’s wrong with you?)
– Founders are expected to demonstrate sacrifice

Being a founder is hard work, but if we sacrifice thinking – letting our brains calculate and make connections – we sacrifice insight, creativity, and our best solutions. Our work suffers.

How can you find time to think?

While some things – usually out of our control – cause us to think about where we are, what we’ve done and where we want to go, in order to evaluate, plan, connect disparate ideas and be thoughtful about our decisions requires us to regularly engineer time with no distraction.

“But I don’t have time.”

Here’s the tough love: make the time. Yes, finding the time is difficult, but it’s not as difficult as being unable to perform well and suffering failure after failure because you haven’t had time to think.

A few things to think about so that you give yourself time to think:

– Start small. Most people are completely surprised at how effective even short periods of uninterrupted time to think are.

– No screens, no podcasts, no interruptions, nothing but you and the inside of your head during the time you consciously and deliberately set aside.

– Make it a habit, and protect it. That means a spot on your calendar, a decision to do that, and a promise to yourself that you will keep that time sacred.

– Incorporate movement. A walk outside is beneficial for many reasons besides just thinking. Leave the hand weights and idea of heart rate at home. Wander.

– Do this alone. You can walk with your spouse, friend, child or teammate some other time, but you are giving yourself and your business time to think.

– Either bring a little notepad and pen or plan to spend a few minutes when you get back from your walk with one. And no, your phone (even on airplane mode) is not the same thing because there is too much distraction, too many feedback loops.

Which would you choose – the challenge of regularly making time to think, or the frustration and pain that comes from falling short time and time again?

Promise yourself that you’ll do this for two weeks, and then evaluate where you are and what effect it has. Your future self will thank you.