Every year, I set aside some time to "think". Typically, it has been during the month of December, but this year it ended up being the month of October. While throughout the year, mind is always on a relentless pursuit of thought, followed by action, I make conscious efforts to prioritize thoughts, share thinking points with friends/mentors and select three concrete areas to work on.
I've found this process very helpful and in fact addictive over the last six years. Several people I know and respect have been doing it for years. For me, the "think" day/week/month entails three things :
1. Emptying your mind and organizing all thoughts in the mind: Open up a journal (I prefer paper journal, but OneNote works as well) and write down all thoughts that have been lingering around in the mind – things you've wanted to learn, things that have been bothering you, things that you've wanted to get done, people you've wanted to meet, etc. After listing down all thoughts – sort, bucketize, prioritize these thoughts/themes.
2. Deliberately add new thinking points to the mind: Since our mind is always receiving information/thinking points from a gamut of sources, "think time" is a good opportunity to put a filter on the information sources and seek out to learn more about a few specific topics. Seek out the experts on these topics, read books, read blogs and take notes.
3. Executing: The entire exercise is not worth it, if it is not acted upon. Prioritize three or four themes/areas to focus on, create milestones and action items, between now and the next "think time."
None of these points are new and most of us use this (or an even more complex/scientific process) for work-related projects. I've gotten myself to do several insightfully satisfying things and thereby increase the portfolio of my passions through these "think times". Starting companies, painting, blogging, getting passionately involved in poverty-elimination/Unitus, travelling to specific places, some very close friends – have been results of my past "think times." Pixtoria is one of the results of my most recent "think time".
A wide variety of themes dominated this year's "think month":
- relationships: family, friends, personal vs professional circle of influence
opportunities/industries: unified communications, social networks, mobile, microfinance, healthcare
- poverty elimination vs environment protection, micro econ vs macro econ
- living in Seattle vs San Francisco
portfolio of passions: painting vs photography, car racing, travelling
I typically don't suspend my regular activities/work during this "think time" (in fact, I try out things that I've been wanting to do for a long time, but haven't gotten a chance to do so – for instance, sky diving, reading books that were on hold for a long time). I don't blog during this time.
The duration of "think time" does not have to be a month, but at least a day or a weekend. It is hard to go in detailed depths, if you don't invest sufficient time. I'll share some of my thinking points during subsequent posts.