Power Forward with a Thinking Day

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” 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 have added “Thinking Days” to the Thinking Lab schedule to help Thinking Lab members take advantage of the program, and make myself available to answer questions.

Often Thinking Lab members will choose to work through one of the 11 self-study courses available in the password protected area of the  Thinking Lab site. These include “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 it takes time and discipline to work through them. It can help to have me on hand to answer questions.

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 the phone bridge to answer questions, point out resources, and offer coaching and encouragement at the beginning, middle, and end of the day for Thinking Lab members.

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 will check the Thinking Lab Forum, and give brief answers to questions raised there and possibly raise those questions in the live Q&A if there is time.

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

  • 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

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

Would you like to join me on the next Thinking Day? Read more about all of the benefits of the Thinking Lab here:


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Next Class

Topic: Tools for Sticking to the Day’s Plan

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern plus 15 minute Q&A
(12:00 noon PT, 1:00 p.m. MT, 2:00 p.m. CT)

As part of my transition from solopreneur to entrepreneur, I am developing a skill I have never before mastered: how to stick to the day’s plan.

I have tried to calendarize work in the past, and all previous attempts have failed miserably. Most of my productive work has been done in heated sprints, in relatively large blocks of time. I can concentrate and get a lot done when I clear the decks, so that has been my main productivity approach: create large blocks of time.

To complicate my personal situation, whenever I’ve run into trouble completing a specific task on a specific day, I’ve usually chosen to analyze the psychology of the trouble. This has been excellent research, which has helped me to understand many cognitive and motivational problems. But dropping everything to do psychological research interferes with the scheduled activities of the business.

Now that I have a team, it is critically important for me to do tasks on schedule, so I don’t hold up their work. If I don’t do my part in time, I don’t get the benefit of having them do a chunk of the work.

The challenge is to stick to a schedule objectively. Things can come up that should change the schedule. But how do you make an objective change to the schedule, instead of just doing what you feel like? I have thoroughly eliminated my duty premise. I simply refuse to “just make myself” do things. I rebel at any method that shuts down my emotions. I know how destructive that is.

So, I’ve been working this problem. I am happy to say that I have several tools I can recommend to make the transition from ad hoc work to objective, calendarized work, without guilt or duty or forcing yourself. We will discuss:

  • Cal Newport’s Objective Rescheduling Technique
  • Brooke Castillo’s “Urge Jar”
  • The Go-No Go Decision Method

Thinking Lab members receive call-in information for these classes.  Click here to join the Thinking Lab.

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