The Scarcest Resource

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Google’s head of marketing Lorraine Twohill says, “Time to think is the scarcest resource in life.”

Do you agree? We seem to be constantly on the search for more time. The most popular articles are about creating efficiencies in our busy lives. The goal of so much of this advice seems to be to do even more than we’re doing now.

The important words in the quote above are ‘time to think’ which is different from finding time to have another meeting.

I’ve asked numerous leaders about the last time they took time to think. Interestingly most take a beat before they can answer. Of course we think all the time. On the fly. Multi-tasking. Crisis mode. Putting out fires.

How about pure thinking time? Really thinking through a situation.

Realistically I don’t do that often. Do you? Total focus on an issue is difficult to arrange and may not even necessarily be the best approach as we teach in Personal Brilliance. In fact, assuming that we need to carve out time to think about a problem could unnecessarily delay a solution.

Often we set an item in our mind and let it float. What this does is create an unconscious filter for our day to pass through. This way we pick up any seemingly unrelated input to the issue.

I know, I know, the human brain cannot multi-task. Perhaps in regard to texting and driving or other physical tasks that require a fuller attention but as an absolute rule, I don’t buy it.

Here is a key for me. When I set a problem to be solved in my mind it’s important that I have enough non-work task items going on. For me, our very active Border Collie, golf, and watching football do the trick.

When I’m standing in center field at the park and throwing the Frisbee for Frankie I find that a part of my brain is working hard analyzing various solutions. It doesn’t seem to happen the same way inside, in an office environment. The outdoors and the physical activity seems to connect things and create a sense of letting go.

This process recently occurred over about eight days. The problem was how best to create a data visualization for a multi-dimensional and changing data set for our new software. I put a lot of info into my brain, secured the problem there and went about my life. There were bubbles and bars, and colors popping into my mind while on walks. A little weird but our brain doesn’t really pay attention to traditional work hours.

What is your non-work activity? Do you have the same experience as I do when you’re doing that activity? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

To do this week. Pick one big issue. Consciously put the problem in your mind. Don’t specifically try to solve it right away. Efficiency isn’t the goal here. No deadline. Allow the problem to ruminate. Observe the scenarios in which your brain seems to be working on the problem for you.

Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Curious about Lorraine Twohill’s approach? Read: How Google’s Head Of Marketing Handles 20 Meetings A Day

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On April 24, 2018
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