Twice a year, for nearly two decades, Bill Gates has gone into seclusion for seven days to think about big problems. He contends some of his best work has come from these “Think Weeks”.
Gates goes through the following process.
- He disconnects from all technology, even cuts himself off from family, friends, and staff.
- A caretaker fixes him two simple meals a day and keeps him stocked with Diet Orange Crush sodas.
- He reads newspaper articles, books, industry news, and Microsoft reports.
- He jots down responses to what he’s read and engages in active pondering, letting new ideas flood into the quiet space he’s cleared for them.
As we all know well, keeping up with our day to day lives seems overwhelming, but it’s essential that we create the opportunity to think deeply about our big goals.
We may not have the resources of a Bill Gates, but we can create our own version of a Think Week:
- Allocate enough time.
Plan this well in advance and block it off your calendar. A seven-day structure provides a start and stop date but shouldn’t be confused with a hard deadline which may stifle creativity.
- Prepare what you are going to think about.
Set goals for your Think Week. Are you trying to solve specific problems or seeking inspiration? What business books have you been waiting to read? What projects have you neglected for lack of time? How many “I need to read this” articles have you stacked in a pile?
- Stay away from your normal routine.
Plan complimentary activities; give your mind a break with healthy activities such as hiking or yoga. Choose a remote location preferably with no Wi-Fi or phone signal. Step out of your normal day-to-day routine in order to see your business/life from a different perspective.
- Take detailed notes on every idea.
If done well, you’ll have a massive amount of output. Be sure to record this for strategic implementation when you return to reality.
- Follow up on the ideas.
With no follow-up, Think Week loses its’ value; the exercise is useful only if it changes the way you live, work, and approach the future.
Think Weeks may not be for everyone, but if you can afford time off from work and family, they can be a game-changer. Where would you go for a Think Week?
The road is easier together,
Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group