"The reason we have so many creative ideas in the shower is that you can't take your laptop/iPhone/iMac in there." - Dharmesh Shah
Wise words, from an entrepreneur that I admire and respect. In fact, I'd go a step further and say that it should be mandatory for all entrepreneurs to take regular showers. Wait, that didn't come out right. Let me explain.
Switching off, downtime, reflection, meditation—whatever you want to call it—is key to the success of any business owner. Not just important, but absolutely vital. We are so busy running our business that we forget to spend time thinking and strategizing about our business. We get caught up in the avalanche of meetings, e-mails, social media and conference calls, that we get to the end of our week—assuming it does actually end—and we find that we've been so busy doing business, that we spent no time thinking business.
Forget what you read in the business magazines or Silicon Valley blogs, working 100 hour weeks is worthless if you've not spent any time thinking about what's next. For me, the most important part of my role as the CEO of Trackur is to constantly think about what's next. What are we missing? What could we do better? Where are the opportunities? Where are the threats?
Sure, like every busy executive, I can go weeks before I find my next "thinking" time, but it doesn't take long before an alarm goes off in the back of my head. Like the old-fashioned work whistle, it signals that it's time to clock-off from the demands of the business and instead focus on the future of the business.
Here are some of the ways you can ensure you're scheduling enough thinking time for your business.
Let's start with the easiest. Assuming you do take a shower each day, forget what the environmentalists say, take a long, relaxing one. Imagine you just had a battle with a skunk, and lost. Spend that much time in the shower, at least once a week. Without the distractions of the day, free your mind to think about your business.
One of my favorites. When the lights are off and the day is finally still, I tend to do my best thinking. Unfortunately, after a good nights sleep, I would tend to wake the next day and forget all the great ideas I had the night before. That was until my wife bought me a notepad and pen with a built in reading light. Now, when the ideas hit me, I can write them down immediately. Want proof it works? The idea for this post was conceived this way!
Find a place where you can switch off. A room in your home, a local park, coffee shop or an activity such as running or hiking. The key is that you must free yourself from the distractions of work. For me, it's visiting my in-laws in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Whenever I am there, I stay away from my computer and instead spend time hiking, reading, and, this will sound new-agey, just being.
I am not ashamed to admit that I take a lot of vacations. I love to travel. Fortunately, our virtual office setup allows for this without any problems. While laying on a beach, cruising a Fjord, or watching a stunning sunrise over a dormant volcano, I do my best thinking. During these periods of contemplation, the only permitted gadget is my iPhone and that is only so I can take a note of any great business ideas that come to me.
It honestly doesn't matter where you are when you spend time thinking about your business. Sitting in rush-hour traffic is better than nothing. The key is to acknowledge that taking the time to think about your business is just as important as the time you spend running your business.
If we all took more showers, our businesses would be more successful...and we'd all be better smelling. A win-win for everyone!