Dedicating time to think before you do


It’s difficult for knowledge workers to sit down and bang out great work.  If you need to write a marketing plan, draft a press release, write a sales script, or anything else that takes significant brain power, the last think you should do is start by staring at a blank page on your screen.

It’s too much at once.  It’s intimidating.  Plus your brain will implore you to focus instead on something easier, something distracting, something else – anything but what you should be focused on. 

Check your email, your RSS feeds, get up and walk around the office.  These are all distractions that keep you from focusing on what’s most important, and ensure it takes far longer to get work done than it actually should take.

Recently I’m fighting these distractions with something basic, and completely offline.  If I need to produce something that requires significant forethought and organization, I put pen to paper first.  Oftentimes, this means writing or typing the topic or project at the top of a piece of paper, printing it out, and taking it away from my desk. 

I’ll print out 3-4 of these at a time and go somewhere without distraction.  The kitchen table, your back porch, even a good bar where you can turn off the phone, ignore distractions that are no longer vying for your attention, and get stuff done.

You’ll be surprised how quickly your ideas coalesce on paper into something valuable, something organized, something that quickly develops into exactly what you’d been trying to do in the first place.

Keep writing, keep brainstorming on paper, and when you do get back to your computer to type you’ll have put enough thought and organization behind the idea or project that it’ll be far easier to ignore distractions, stay focused, and just get it done.

Dedicating time to think about what you need to do before you actually do it is the key to getting more done faster, and doing it better.