But you don’t have time for that. You’re a busy engineer. Busy with your job, your family, your community.
You need time to think. But your calendar is packed. Even double-booked. Time to think is a luxury. Like most women engineers, you don’t have time for that.
But you can make time.
Time to think is important. And just like anything, you can make it a priority. You can make time to think and put it on your calendar.
Today we’re gonna talk about time to think. Why you need it. And how to create it.
The Benefits of Thinking Time in Your Engineering Career
There are a bunch of positive effects of thinking time for you and your engineering job. By carving out time to think you’re making space for brainstorming and strategizing. Directing your thoughts and allowing ideas.
Using this tactic enables you to resolve nagging issues. To do some deep dive problem solving or creative thinking. It helps you work through what-if scenarios. It alleviates worries and prepares you for upcoming events.
You can even perform thought experiments. Like Einstein was famous for.
Because you’re allowing your brain time to work through things, it doesn’t get all backed up or befuddled. Thinking time can be an annealing process for your stressed out brain. A salve for your overwhelmed mind.
It’s remarkable all the great things that thinking time gives you. Yet no one seems to mention it as a regular activity. No one’s gonna give you time for thinking. You have to make time to do it.
And probably no one’s gonna give you permission to take time out to think. So I will. I hereby give you permission.
How to Create Time in Your Engineering Schedule for Thinking
The benefits of thinking time are pretty clear. But you don’t have a minute to spare on your calendar. So how do you make time to think?
I’m not gonna say it’s easy. But it’s much easier if you can put a priority on time to think. And this is easier if you consider the return on that investment.
A few minutes of thinking time can mean the difference between a successful interview and an unsuccessful one. It can mean less stress and overwhelm. And allow you more clear-headedness for your upcoming negotiations with your boss, for example.
Your investment in thinking time, in return:
- allows you to focus during your other daily activities
- keeps your mind sharp and ideas flowing
- prepares you for meetings and keeps you on top of issues
- enhances creativity and innovation.
Once you’ve set your priority, the rest is a simple 1-2-3 – Purpose, Time, and Schedule:
- Determine Your Purpose
Decide what you want to think about in your next thinking time segment. Do you need to focus on a particular problem or activity? Or do you need to defocus to get creative and let ideas flow? Set an intention and stay within that scope.
- Set Your Time
Determine how much time you can devote in any given day. Even 15 minutes can be beneficial. Be realistic about what you can do in your given time. But don’t let limited time keep you from at least starting your thinking process.
- Schedule It
Put it on your calendar. Only you need to know what it means. But everyone needs to see that you’ve blocked off that time and you’re not available.
Here are a few more tricks for finding time to think:
- Use the time of day that works best for your brain. If you’re a morning person, thinking time in the morning will be more fruitful.
- If you can’t find a long open stretch of time, schedule a few shorter ones. You can fill in those gaps in your schedule that often occur between meetings and are too short to start another task.
- Pair thinking time with walking time. If you take walks for exercise or to get away for a bit, these are great opportunities for thinking time.
- Thinking out loud while chatting with a colleague works too.
- To get the most out of brief thinking times, just let your mind work. Then write down notes afterward.
Thinking time is a valuable part of your engineering work week. It’s available to you if you want it to be. Try working it into your schedule and see if you notice some of the benefits mentioned here.
Leverage thinking time to help keep things in perspective. To emphasize what’s most important and keep you on your preferred engineering career trajectory.
To strategize thinking time and other essential career tactics, sign up for a strategy session with me. I’d love to help you discover ways to get more out of your engineering career.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll discuss assessing your next career move. You won’t want to miss Episode 88.