Impact Results … spend time thinking … Really!

ThinkerThinking will give you the results you want. Often we are thinking, but not productively. Much of our thinking sends us through endless loops and the result is unproductive. However, there is a solution. To do some productive thinking, we must slow down, make the time, make the space, and use the correct thinking tools.


Thinking takes more time than you think. You must schedule the time to do some productive thinking. It’ is much like going to the gym or a yoga class. If you don’t seriously schedule it, you will not get there on a consistent basis. So, it is the same with thinking. Unless you schedule time to think, and think only, you won’t do it.

During this thinking time, use it differently than the time when you plan your next week, or ideas about what you need to put on your agenda. This thinking time is not when you are working on a project, even though you may generate some ideas about those projects. Block some time to be alone with absolutely no agenda but thinking. Early morning is the best time for most people.


You will need a space to think that is free from noise, interruptions and other distractions. Our minds have developed and evolved to pay attention to things that are new and interesting and if there is nothing that fits that criteria, the mind will event it. Your space should be comfortable and quiet. No Internet, phone, TV, or visitors. I am sure that each of us has a different definition of “suitability” for this space. Perhaps some soothing music or recorded natural sound will work for you.


We love our smart phones, laptops, great software and apps. To do your best thinking, do not even have these items in sight. I say that you should revert to the Stone Age and use a yellow pad for mind mapping and your notes. OK, if you must use you electronic note writer, do it. But, it may become a distraction. Some people still use index cards, or don’t write anything down. Figure out what works for you and do it.


Use the stream of conscious method and write down whatever comes to your mind. Then write down the next thing that comes to your mind. If you can’t think of anything to write, write down, my colleague Anthony Innarino says you should write “I can’t think of anything to write.” Write something until some idea comes to you, and an idea will surely come to you (you may be out of practice taking time to think).

Write until you run out of things to write, and then go back and read everything that you have written. As you reading, write down the ideas that come to you as you are prompted by what you have written. There’s more in those ideas, and thinking about them bring out more ideas.

Ask yourself: “Why is this important now?” Ask, “What should I be doing with this idea?” Ask, “What value does this idea have and what would make it a stronger idea?” Ask, “Who would benefit from this idea?” Answer the questions that come to you, then answer the questions that those answers bring. Evaluate your ideas. Ponder them. Thinking is asking yourself questions about ideas. These suggestions will help you to produce more and better ideas when you make the time to think.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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