Tick Tock…It’s about Time By Lathasha Subban

Organisation Effectiveness: Harnessing Knowledge Management to support change mastery and continuous improvement By Emmanuel Haruperi with additions by Lathasha Subban
June 14, 2017
Youth Day 2017: Create the opportunity for tomorrow’s leaders by Lathasha Subban
June 16, 2017

Have you ever found yourself wishing that time will stop? Or maybe you wish that you had more time in the day to complete tasks? Do you ever find time to “think” or are you only just “doing’?

Many professionals are struggling to cope with the pressures of work and personal life obligations. Work pressure is increasing, and family obligations tend to get neglected. However, in order to drive your ability and potential, you have to find the time to “Think”. Human beings go through millions of thoughts a day, process different information at any given time and tries to rationalise and react to the information in terms of output and behaviour. Furthermore, the mind tries to focus on task delivery at a faster and more efficient rate. This can be overwhelming.

Since our working environments are demanding more innovation, time and value on delivery, it becomes increasingly difficult to be innovative and creative, when you are more task driven rather than vision driven. Some of the greatest minds discovered their genius in their “thinking time.”

  • Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity: “Though Newton’s inspiration for his theories on gravity are often attributed to the “Apple Incident” – i.e. where he watched an apple fall from a tree – the story is considered apocryphal by modern sources who argue that he came to his conclusions over time.”[1]

  • JK Rowlings the author of the Harry Potter series: “Jo conceived the idea of Harry Potter in 1990 while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London King’s Cross. Over the next five years, she began to map out all seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a mass of notes, many of which were scribbled on odd scraps of paper.”[1]
  • Albert Einstein and Theory of Relativity: “His great breakthroughs came from visual experiments performed in his head rather than the lab. They were called Gedankenexperiment — thought experiments. At age 16, he tried to picture in his mind what it would be like to ride alongside a light beam. If you reached the speed of light, wouldn’t the light waves seem stationery to you? “[2]
  • Adrian Gore, the Founder and CEO of Discovery Holdings: ““I suppose I don’t really feel I’m in the position of having finished the race where one looks back and takes stock of it all. I’m only halfway through the marathon.” [3]

The greatness appears in reflection and quiet moments of thought. As individuals who are consistently trying to keep up with our responsibilities, we have to take a time out and reflect on whether we deliver to our optimum best. By practicing “think time” one can dip into their creativity, plan on innovative ideas and really bring them to life, create solutions rather than actions to challenges, and maybe just get a better understanding of the different aspects in our lives. This type of practice will not only prove to improve your personal life, but also the way you respond to business demands. A clearer thought process enables better synergy and understanding within the work environment, and the profoundness of taking the time to think, was explained by author Nancy Kline in her book a “Time to Think”. Here the importance and power of “thinking” is formulated into practice through 10 principles[1] which can be used within the work environment:

  • Attention Listening with palpable respect and without interruption.
  • Equality Ensuring equal turns to think and speak.
  • Ease Offering freedom from internal urgency.
  • Incisive Questions Finding and removing untrue assumptions that distort thinking.
  • Information Supplying the facts dismantling denial.
  • Diversity Encouraging divergent thinking and diverse group identities.
  • Encouragement Giving courage for cutting edge thinking by removing internal competition.
  • Feelings Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking.
  • Appreciation Practicing a 5:1 ratio of appreciation to criticism.
  • Place Creating a physical environment that says to people, “You matter.”

As HR professionals, we need to consistently keep our finger on the pulse on issues of employee- wellness, work-life balance and performance of an individual. We are there to encourage great performance with the enablement of innovation and best practice, yet we have to be aware on what is the actual value and productivity levels of the employees are. By encouraging “think time”, you allow the employee to reflect and refresh their ideas and plans. They may start creating a clearer picture and understanding of the business vision.

Tips and tools:

  • Start small, think big. Start taking just 5 -15 minutes to think. The idea here is to start.
  • Write or type. Journaling or just noting the ideas is a good way to reflect and not let them slip away.
  • Know the signs. Think time will have signs like stress, cannot make a simple decision, going blank, feeling tired and de-motivated. When these signs appear, it’s think time.
  • Don’t panic, give it a “think”. Human beings have the ability to resolve their problems by their rational thought process. The solutions are always within.
  • Put yourself first. “Think time” is about your personal reflection and the way you will improve yourself as an individual, professional, mother, father etc. In order to achieve both individual and professional goals, you have to take time to think and plan through it.
  • Find a place, or switch into think mode anywhere. As seen from the above, the great ideas came when the person was in think mode. It can be anywhere or anytime. Self-disciplined thinking means ensuring the time-out, like taking a lunch by yourself, going to a place that helps you think. Some just take a few minutes in their office, homes or other places for some think time.

The possibilities are endless if we can create our thinking space. It is a way to cope with the daily pressures of life, which are not likely to change immediately, however it be more manageable and less overwhelming. “Think time” creates the human ability to resolve, manage, respond, and build in confidence and potential. By knowing that we can achieve goals and pass hurdles, we build confidence to push our boundaries to greater limits…or rather limitless. The greatest attribute that thinking gives life to is ability to “DO”.

Tick tock, it’s think time. What do you think?


[1] http://www.timetothink.com/meet-us/nancy-kline/ and http://timetothink.com/uploaded/TE%20Imperative%20of%20Beha.pdf

[1] https://www.jkrowling.com/about/

[2] http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1936731_1936743_1936760,00.html

[3] https://bizconnect.standardbank.co.za/grow/growth-strategies/adrian-gore-%E2%80%93-the-disrupter.aspx

[1] https://www.universetoday.com/38643/what-did-isaac-newton-discover/