Why is it we schedule time for meetings, but not time for thinking?
Take a look at your calendar. If it’s like mine used to be, it’s a series of scheduled meetings with some blank space in between for more meetings to eventually be scheduled. As I said in a previous post, meetings are (or at least should be) real work, but there is some work you sometimes have to do by yourself. Like thinking, for one. We scheduled time for meetings, we sometimes schedule time for doing, but we rarely schedule time for thinking.
As a result, I now look at my calendar a little bit differently. Instead of viewing it as a list of meetings and times available for meetings not yet scheduled, I now directly schedule in times for doing and thinking along with times for meetings. I regularly block off 1.5 days a week for working – with no meetings. I also schedule an hour a day for thinking. This time sometimes ends up being used for doing, but I do often use it for thinking. I try to use the time to think about how I might apply some business world technique or strategy to astronomy. I think about our observatory’s strategic needs and how we might better address and fulfill them. I think about our competitive environment and how we might better connect with our stakeholders. More often than not, these hours result in some obvious, quick action items that result in making progress on long term objectives that would not normally see the light of day in a calendar filled with meetings and slots for potential meetings.
I still don’t have enough time for doing as I would like, but these brief thinking sessions help my doing time be more productive and they help me better formulate tasks I end up delegating, helping them both start off on the right foot and ultimately contribute to a larger strategic goal.