WW#002: Time to Reflect?

Don’t tell me, I’ve been there! You’re up against it, it’s been another manic week. You’re giving almost all the energy you’ve got to tackle the daily grind. I say “almost” as you’re taking 5 minutes to read this.

So why have you given yourself just 5 minutes? Intrinsically you know you need some mental space, but you’d struggle to convince colleagues you were working on your phone, in fact I’d be willing to bet you’re in the loo right now reading this. Gotcha!

So why is it that reflecting is not seen as working? It has been proven time and again that giving ourselves new stimuli or allowing our mind to refocus can have a profound impact on our creativity. I know this, and yet I remember taking pride in skipping lunch and staying late. You’ve got to do 10,000 hours right?

“To know and not do is to not know” — Steven Covey

Creating your own sacred space
In his very succinct yet fascinating book, “A Technique for Producing Ideas”, James Webb Young identified a 5 step process:

  1. Gather raw materials
  2. Digest
  3. Unconsciously process
  4. Have the ‘a-ha’ moment
  5. Challenge the idea with reality

It’s the “unconsciously processing” stage that I want to focus on. So how do you ensure this stage happens in the work day?

I used to be very envious of the smokers at work. Through a forced need they got their timeout, a rush of new ideas and ‘fresh air’. I’m not suggesting that we all take-up smoking, but there is a learn here for all of us. Our equivalent time out these days can be a journey into social media, exercising or sharing a coffee.

So, what can you practically do?
Well for one, I recommend taking a holiday every quarter. My wife always makes sure we do this, even if it is a mini-break or a long weekend. I find some of my best ideas come whilst kitesurfing or in nature.

Also, try to understand the patterns of natural cycles in your calendar and work around them. For some people it’s the day of the week, for others the season. Get a calendar out and mark when you’ve had your biggest challenges, then build in sacred space that works for you, such as exercise, journaling, meditation.

A great way to help form routines is with an app like the Streaks app.

Be kind to yourself

If you struggle with being externally referenced (like me then it will be all the more difficult for you be kind on yourself). Ultimately you have to consider how you can be the best and most creative you, and that means getting time to reflect. It could make the difference between delivering your next creative contribution to the world, or instead submitting to the person judging you for reading this (which is only you by the way!

Alternatively, getting a coach or mentor can be a great way to create time to reflect.

Find out how I could help you with planning, mindset, culture & scaling in as little as 1 hour a month...

Inspired by this post?

Join 4k leaders learning from the WiserWednesday Newsletter with an actionable tip to grow your business most weeks.

We hate SPAM. It's not the Jedi way.


Connect with me

James Potten


On a mission to democratise entrepreneurship by providing access to best practice, helping startups sustainably scale up.