Top 8 tips for making time to plan and think

30 secondsMake time to plan and think

Making time to think and plan is really important in today’s complex and dynamic world. There is a danger that we rush from meeting to meeting trying to deliver task after task and squeeze every last drop of inspiration and activity from our diary.

Some people see time management as like being in the gym, sweating and working hard every day to keep on top of stuff, we raise unrealistic expectations, we cut corners and we end up firefighting because we become narrow focused non-reflecting automatons who don’t stop enough to reflect, think and plan.

Great leaders, however, are regularly allocating a lot of time to think and reflect. It has been suggested that Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates even take “think days” or “think weeks” which consist of walking, meditation, reading, detox by healthy eating and above all planning.

You, like many people I meet, might be tempted to argue that you don´t have enough time to plan and think, because you are too important or just too busy. You may also be successful, however Warren Buffett, arguably the world´s most successful investor, allegedly estimates that he spends about 80% of his time reading, thinking and planning.

If he can make enough time to enjoy the privilege to think, you can too.

Try some of these suggestions and make planning part of your way of life

Core valuesMake planning and Thinking a core personal value:

Understand and fully accept that having enough thinking time is crucial. Make it a part of your professional and personal life and establish it as a core value. When looking back one day at the end of your life you´d like to be able to state that you had been thinking deeply and broadly about any topic and aspect which has mattered to you.


my timeEstablish A Weekly or Daily Planning and Thinking Routine

There will always be external tasks and deadlines which you will need to hit. This is just a fact of life. You need to plan sufficient fixed time slots for planning and thinking. Either do it every day for at least twenty minutes either at the beginning or the end of the day you might need a slightly longer period at the end of the working week and the beginning of the working week. It all depends on your personality and preferences. However, do it and do not allow others stealing your thinking time. Don’t mark the time in your diary as ‘Planning’ – mark it as a “meeting with PATT” [Planning And Thinking Time] this will mean you are less likely to have the valuable time stolen from you by others.

nurtureFind and cherish your Planning – Thinking stimuli

Coffee shops, or the gym proved to be excellent idea generators for me. For you it might be walking in a park or the mountains, playing with your kids, or playing music. Whatever it is, enjoy it frequently, develop and protect it.


top 3Specify Your Top Three Thinking Goals

Either for the week or for each day. Usually we only plan action items and tangible business goals. Make it a priority to write down every Sunday at least three thought-provoking goals for the week to come and then get into the habit of reviewing them at the end of each week.


howAsk The 7 Questions of Success

Sadly, many of us have forgotten how to ask good questions, never knew in the first place or have become too lazy to ask them. Rediscover the beauty of well-structured and targeted questions – what is the agenda and what do you want to know. Try to focus on the 7 questions of success – Why, Why Not, What If, What If Not, What Else, How, and When, Who and by When questions – these add fun structure and will help you get answers.

memoryFeed Your Brain

Remember the 7C’s of knowledge – great planners and thinkers have a massive appetite for information, data, stories, etc. The more we inquire the more we can link, the better we feel and the more robust the planning. Where do you get your information, which magazines, which book(s) do you currently read? Great planners and thinkers will link information from multiple sources – What might you do.

top 5- 1Conduct Regular Planning Thinking Slot Checks

Make sure that once or twice a week you put 10 to 15 minutes aside to review whether your daily thinking activities and your overall schedule are aligned with your goals. If not, spend more time to reflect.


Final Thoughts – Being successful in life is much more than working hard. Work (career, wealth) is just one aspect of life. There are other crucial areas which need to get adequate and regular attention in order to lead a fulfilled life with enough time to reflect: social area (family, friends, recognition), health area (sports, relaxation, diet, well-being and fitness), and PLANNING and THINKING as part of this30 seconds

Having enough time to plan and think is all about self-management and taking full responsibility of yourself. You can and you must pro-actively think, create, organize and live your life. No one else can and will do it for you.

Invest in your self-development put aside some time to plan and think each day

– and remember… there is always Morethan1answer