Plan to have a quiet period each day. You may not get it every day, but it’s important that you set aside some time for daydreaming and reflection. It’s vital to the inner person. Also, problems that seem insurmountable often ease into proper perspective during these quiet times.

Personal Reflection on Another Level

There is a level beyond setting aside some quiet time for reflection: a powerful concept called “idea liberation” from Business Lessons from the Edge: Learn How Extreme Athletes use Intelligent Risk Taking to Succeed in Business, by McCormick and Karinch. Idea liberation is a creativity strategy used by many of the successful athletes/executives referenced in the book and involves two simple steps.

  1. The first is to make note of when ideas commonly come to mind for you. It is probably a time when you have fewer distractions and likely not when you are at work. Reflection activities that often allow ideas to surface include walking, biking, hiking, exercising in nearly any way, showering, meditating, driving, sitting on a park bench, or looking out over a lake or the ocean. You get the idea. There are activities in your life during which new ideas are more likely to come to mind. Identify your preferred reflection method.
  2. The second step of idea liberation is to consciously put yourself in these settings on a regular basis and be prepared to note the ideas that surface. This will likely require you to leave behind or turn off your phone or PDA and stop texting or checking e-mails.

The premise is that ideas are always bouncing around in your head. Much of creative thinking is about harvesting them. When we are constantly intensely engaged, we rarely notice them.

So the action step here is to observe when new ideas surface for you, then put yourself in that setting often while being aware of the ideas that come to mind. You will be pleased with the creative ideas that you harvest.

The Closed Period

Some organizations follow a closed-office procedure you may want to use in mapping out your own day to reflect and accomplish more. For example, an office will have a two-hour closed period, where it’s business as usual except that
no one in the office goes to see anyone else. No one makes interoffice phone calls and no company meetings are ever scheduled during this closed period. Genuine emergencies are handled expeditiously; calls from clients, customers, or other outsiders are accepted.

This idea has a great deal of merit. It means you’ll have two hours each day when no one from within the company is going to call you on the phone or come into your office. It gives you an opportunity to control what you do during the specified period. If respected, it should also reduce the impact of technology-facilitated interruptions from internal sources that can lead to the tyranny of the immediate.

Perhaps some person got the idea while working in the office on a week- end and noticing how much more he accomplished than in the same period of time during the week. But the idea is feasible only if you don’t shut off your customers or clients during the closed period. It’s an idea an entire organization can use to their advantage and everybody will have the opportunity to focus more on personal reflection.

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