Clear space to think

Photo courtesy of Id-Iom (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Id-Iom (Creative Commons)

One thing I have discovered lately is that I struggle when I’m busy and I don’t have what I call “clear space” to think through issues and challenges. But the slippery slope I get caught on is that I allow things to crowd in and take up that space, instead of pushing them away in order to create it.

Rather than build time into my day to work on projects or figure out solutions to issues, I get sucked into email, voicemails, questions, urgent “fires” that need to be put out – and then by the time I do sit down to work on a project, I’m mentally exhausted by being pulled in so many different directions.

Instead of being proactive, I’m being reactive.

And worst of all, I’m teaching people how to treat me – that it’s ok to expect me to jump at their every request.

My most common response is “I haven’t had time to figure that out yet.” In reality, if I could only find a way to “figure that out,” my team would have fewer questions and be more self-sufficient.

What I need to do is set aside a block of time – an hour at least – in the morning when I’m fresh, and target a challenge or project that will be my focus for that time. And I need to send calls to voicemail, turn off email, post a sign or whatever it takes to spend that time uninterrupted.

By setting up a boundary around myself and taking the initiative to push away other obligations during that time, I can finally do the planning, strategizing and “work” that I need to do in order to move forward. In fact, some of the interruptions might be eliminated by spending that time finding ways to improve communication and put new processes in place.

What do you need to do to create the “clear space” to think through your challenges?