Is Thinking Time in Your Daily Schedule?

By Jack Rosenberger

By Jack Rosenberger

One of Michelle Obama's concerns about her husband during his first U.S. presidential campaign was one that many CIOs understand all too well; she was worried that, given his busy schedule, Barack won't have enough time to think.

Indeed, one common attribute of professionally successful people is that they understand the importance of regularly setting aside distraction-free time in which to think. "The most important thing you need to do," as President Obama confided to British Prime Minister David Cameron after the 2008 U.S. election, "is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you're doing is thinking."

Everyone benefits from a regular contemplative time in which to just think. You can use this block of quiet time to plot a long-term strategic technology plan for your business, revisit a difficult situation or problem and try to find the best answer, or perform any other type of complex, high-level thinking.

However, for an activity like thinking time to steadily occur in your executive life, you need to put it in your schedule, as U.S. Tennis Association CIO Larry Bonfante notes in "Three Tips About Managing Your Time." Otherwise, it is less likely to happen.

Just as thinking time is vital for CIOs and IT leaders, it is also essential for your staff. Like you, they need time in which to reflect about their work, refine and improve practices, and learn new skills. In order for workers to get these periods of thinking time, they need to discuss how to change their work habits so they are able to digitally disconnect, says Leslie Perlow, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of Sleeping With Your Smartphone. Perlow also says IT leaders need to support these efforts in order for them to succeed.

In the end, creating a space for thinking time in your schedule—and in the schedules of your staff—can be a win-win for everyone involved. And I'd be surprised if your staff doesn't appreciate your efforts upon their behalf.

About the Author

Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. You can read his previous CIO Insight blog post, "Replace Your Mobile Paper With a Tablet," by clicking here.

This article was originally published on 2013-12-05