• Donald Davis

Productivity Tip – Give Your Team Time to Think

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are having a big issue at home or at work. In the heat of the moment it seems like a solution may not be possible. A long walk, quiet time or even just some time by yourself listening to music then BANG! in your head pops in the solution to the big problem like it was fired out of a gun into your brain.

In the new COVID world, what does your day look like? Back-to-back meetings and in the age of COVID do you hop from one teleconference to the next. ZOOM, Teams, Go to Meeting etc. have all done a great job in building virtual tools where you can share your camera, slides and a whiteboard to write on if needed. Additionally, there are other virtual tools to capture ideas and write them down. As a facilitator these virtual tools are awesome, now we just need people with ideas that break down problems and challenge the status quo!

Prior to joining these meetings have most of the leaders thought about the problem that brought you to initiating the meeting? No! Will they get time during the meeting to think through things? No! (drumming fingers on the desktop) Where is my solution? It is there, in the brilliant minds I work with I know they can solve the issues but they are going to need space to think.

We focus so much time on getting the right people in the right seats. We then pay them well, especially with the current labor shortage. Then we do everything possible to fill up their calendar with back-to-back meetings so that they are limited in their ability to actually think.

To be clear, I am not talking about a 5 or 10 minute break between meetings. This amount of time is great for a bio break or time to get something to drink and get setup for the next session.

Weekends may offer some reprieve but many leaders use part of their weekend to catch up on work and get ready for the next week. 

Understanding all of this means that your team may be overworked in this new virtual world and it might actually lead to less productive work.

There is hope for adjusting this back-to-back COVID world we live in today. It is going to take understanding as well as boundaries. 

  1. Teams need to align on the decision to make time to think. Your people need to commit adequate time to think through issues along with making the time relevant to solving key issues.

  2. The start of this brain whitespace starts with scheduling time (in your calendar) to think through the issues at hand.

  3. One of the biggest tools for working through problems does not come through fancy technology or approaches. A pen and paper will force you to think through describing the problem, what needs to happen to resolve the issue and key individuals that need to support the solution. One thought I read was to declutter your mind and your time by writing and clearly using your schedule to focus time.

  4. Focus….is the problem statement clear? Is the solution clear? If not you will need time to focus. This could mean time in silence, a walk etc to get to that point where your brain can focus. For me walking, hiking and exercising are often times when the greatest ideas seem to provide that moment of clarity.

Meetings have to happen to move the cogs of progress forward and align people around ideas in business. However, just as important as meetings is the time needed for the most expensive resource in your company (manpower) to think about how they improve, increase capabilities and at the end of the day move the company forward without the pressure of (fingers drumming on the desktop) waiting for an answer.

Give them some Whitespace!

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