Do you ever wish you had more time to think at work?

Within my work life, I’ve got countless small and bigger “things” I’d like to dedicate more thinking time to. These include projects I want to explore, strategic directions I wish to examine, ideas I’m itching to write up, new practices and tools I am eager to play with.

Yet most of my work time is spent doing. At a hectic, intense pace.

I like intense, I admit! But, I also love to think about the work I’m doing: to consider ideas, make rationed decisions, solve problems, contemplate alternatives, and create. Slowly, and with intention.

Can you relate?

What gets in the way of making time to think at work?

If we want, and enjoy, thinking time as much as we claim, why don’t we do more of it at work, and in the context ?  Here are some of thoughts that get in the way.

I’ll have more time to think when…I finish project X, winter comes, etc. We trick ourselves into believing that things will be different/better at some distinct point in the future.

I’m too busy.

I need a big chunk of time.
I fall into this…I fantasize about a solo retreat, in a space with tons of light and quiet, where I wake up early and immerse myself into extended and deep thinking.

I’m too tired.
Frankly, there are times when I’m simply too tired to think. It could be because I haven’t slept well, or I haven’t had enough rest, or I’ve spent the entire day “doing”, in my usual lazer-focussed adn intense way. Then, I’m pooped.

Which of the above resonate(s) for you?

5 ways to have more time to think at work

Here is some big-picture advice if you want to dedicate more time and attention to thinking at work – – so you can address challenges with more intention, deliberatively problem-solve, and relish in the intellectual satisfaction of thinking.

1. Think together

Reach out to a colleague who can be your thinking partner for 20 minutes or longer. It’s so fun to see what comes out of these dialogues!

2. Snatch a thinking recess

Remember recess as a kid? We’d have 15 minutes to play and get out of the classroom? It felt so good!
During your thinking recess, you get to play with ideas. Set a timer (if you want) and create a mind map, free write, or record your ideas using voice to text.

3. Capture it in a notebook

I have a notebook that I carry around with me almost every time I leave the house; in it, I capture ideas when I’m out and about. When I’m working at my computer, I keep a scrap paper by my desk in which I write ideas that come to me at random times.  Of course, my phone is also a handy device for tracking ideas that come to me.

4. Change your environment

Stepping away from your usual surroundings can help spark creativity and clearer thinking. Whether it’s a peaceful park bench, a favourite spot at the library, or a cozy coffee shop, a change in scenery can signal to your mind that something different is happening, and that you are there for thoughtful reflection and problem-solving.
I used to do this much more often, especially when my kids were younger.

5. Reflect on your learning with 3-2-1

If your work involves reading (e.g., blog posts, articles) or quick learning (video tutorials, podcasts, webinars, etc), you can amplify the thinking part of that activity with this quick reflection:

  • 3 things I learned
  • 2 questions I have
  • 1 interesting fact I will share with a colleague


If you’d like to experience more joy at work and in your career, I can help. Contact me at isabeauiqbal(at)gmail(dot)com to find out how.

Ready to shape your career so it's right for you?

...Get monthly resources and actionable advice here..

SUCCESS! Thank you for joining.