FAQ: What is a “Thinking Day”?

Approximately every two months, I run a “Thinking Day” in the Thinking Lab.

A “Thinking Day” is a day you concentrate entirely on one project. You might devote it to a creative project that needs uninterrupted time — like outlining a book. You might devote it to goal-setting or planning a major project. You might devote it to something that you’re procrastinating on — and you want to turn all of your attention to it, both to get it done and to figure out what’s been stopping you. You might devote the day to listening to a course you bought but never went through. Or you might devote it to getting as much done on your “to do” list as you can, just to clear the decks.

It’s your choice.

The “Thinking Day” I offer in the Thinking Lab is inspired by a “Do It Day” that I participated in some years ago. My mentor, David Newman, declared the date, and everyone in his group cleared the day to work on our businesses. Every hour on the hour from 9-4, we called into his bridge to report what we had intended to do in the last hour, what we actually did, and what we were planning to do in the next hour. In between, he was available on Facebook to answer questions and send links to resources.

I found this format to be highly productive. Blocking out a day helps you to focus on one project and keep at it for the whole day. Having some way to “check in” and ask questions helps overcome roadblocks. I continue to run my own personal “do it days” from time to time with a friend.

I  originally added “Thinking Days” to the Thinking Lab schedule to help Thinking Lab members take advantage of the resources I offer, and make myself available to answer questions. Recently, I started scheduling the Launch Program around them. This program is designed to support you in achieving a major goal in eight weeks. It opens and closes on a Thinking Day.

Everyone who participates in a Thinking Day gets to decide how to use it best for him or herself. To aid in that, I am on a virtual call to answer questions, point out resources, and offer coaching and encouragement at the beginning, middle, and end of the day for Thinking Lab members.  In particular, I encourage everyone beginning the Launch program to check in to vet their major goal to make sure they have set a goal they can achieve.

The typical schedule is:

10:00 – 12:00 p.m. Eastern:  Opening Circle plus Q&A

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern:  Open Q&A

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Eastern:  Open Q&A

5:45 p.m. Eastern:  Closing Circle

In between, I try to check email for questions and possibly raise those questions in the live Q&A if there is time.

What makes or breaks this event for anyone is the choice of issue to work on.

Often Thinking Lab members will choose to work through one of the many self-study courses available in the password-protected area of the Thinking Lab site. These include “Do What Matters Most,” “Tap Your Own Brilliance,” “Just-in-Time Planning,” “Non-Fiction Writing,” and “Smarter Execution,” plus all the courses on essentialization that I developed from 1998-2002. Any member of the Lab can work through them at his or her own pace at any time. However, I recognize that doing so takes time and discipline. It can therefore help to schedule a day to work through one of them and to have me on hand to answer questions.

I encourage Thinking Lab members to select the project or skill to work on ahead of time. They can email me in advance, so I can then suggest one of the self-study courses that would be most appropriate to help guide the work. Here’s the rough correspondence:

  • Beginning the Launch Program: Define an Initiative
  • New to the Thinking Lab: Go through Do What Matters Most
  • Plan a complex project: Go through Just in Time Planning
  • Stop procrastinating on a project: Go through Smarter Execution
  • Write something: Go through the Non-Fiction Writing Course
  • Solidify your general skills: Go through Tap Your Own Brilliance or Making Thinking Tactics Second Nature
  • Improve your time management: Go through Evolving a Scheduling Infrastructure
  • Improve your precision: Condensation
  • Deal with difficult conversations: Go through the Rationally Connected Conversations Intro class
  • Clarify your long-term goal: Worth through the Central Purpose course
  • Be more motivated: Go through How to be Passionate about Your Priorities

Thinking Lab members can navigate to these courses from the Self-Study contents page and find detailed descriptions of each on the course page.

Thinking Days are typically scheduled for New Year’s, early March, early May, Labor Day, and early November. Check the upcoming events at right to see when the next Thinking Day is.

Would you like to join me on the next Thinking Day? Read more about all of the benefits of the Thinking Lab here. Or maybe join the next eight-week Launch Program.

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