Make time for think time

“Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.” — Plato

Our thoughts are the foundation of all our actions. In order for our work to be productive and creative, our thoughts need to be in order. This can be a real challenge as gathering the thoughts in your mind is near impossible without dedicating think time out of your busy routine.

It’s time to make time for think time. Here are some ideas.

1. Tired mind equals tired ideas

Do everything you can to get enough sleep. Switch off devices, television, lights and all other distractions at least half an hour before going to bed. The hardest thing in the world is to put your smartphone in another room for the night, so I suggest you start by just switching it off. Use a traditional alarm clock to wake up in the morning.

2. Care for your body

Your exercise time can be used to process and gather your thoughts. Try a 15-minute walk three times a week and build up to a 30-minute walk every day. Healthy food also helps your brain to thrive. Reduce sugar and carbs and increase protein and fats.

3. Be ruthless with entertainment or distractions

Limit social chatting to lunch time and tea breaks. Switch off the television for a set period of time each night and use that time for writing down ideas and goals. Limit your time on social media and use this saved time to process your ideas.

4. Wake up early

Wake up half an hour earlier each day. If you’re a morning person this should be easy. Use this quiet time to think, plan and process. Have a cup of coffee and enjoy your think time!

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” — Henry Ford

5. Schedule it in

If you can’t manage any of the above, schedule think time into your calendar. This one is my favourite as I’m a list person and love scheduling tasks into my calendar. Once scheduled, stick to it!

6. Make it a habit

Think time should become a habit and part of your daily routine. Anything that is a habit will become automatic and easy—just like brushing your teeth.

7. Close the door

No matter where your think time happens you need to do it alone. Close the door. Lock it. Barricade it. Do not open it (unless there’s a fire). If you’re accustomed to receiving lots of phone calls, divert your phone to your secretary or to voicemail during think time. No excuses.

In conclusion

There are many ways to make time for think time. I’ve only suggested these seven ways to help you get started.

One of the reasons business owners or managers often struggle—or fail—is their lack of reflection. They don’t allow time for their thoughts to mature and their actions to spring from sound ideas.

Allow your business to grow by giving your brain time to rejuvenate and focus, and then, perhaps, it will surprise you with fresh, new ideas.

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” — Lao Tzu

Integrity is…

What is integrity? I’ve thought long and hard about this question over the last few weeks, and read and researched many definitions. I’ve now made my own decision and here it is:

Integrity is when what you say and what you do matches. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy.

There it is! It’s not much, yet it’s so much, and it’s just an everyday girl’s opinion.

According to Google, integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”, as quoted from Wikipedia:

“Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.”

This first definition is what I don’t agree with completely. I feel that this is the definition of character not of integrity.

Someone could have one moral view that is not the same as another’s view, yet both could have integrity—their deeds match their words—even if their moral “truth” differs.

I tend to agree with Wikipedia’s second definition of integrity:

“In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding within themselves apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.”

This may not seem to be practical strategic advice for your business, however somehow I felt it mattered.

How you show integrity in business, or at work, matters just as much as how you execute a well-thought-out business plan. Both require thought, word and deed, and both become defining traits of their subject.

Here is a link to a white paper on the subject of integrity in C-level executives. This may encourage you to think about integrity and how necessary it is in business.

The Irony of Integrity – A Study of the Character Strengths of Leaders by William A. Gentry, Kristin L. Cullen, and David G. Altman

What is digital leadership?

“To be a digital leader you need to not only excel at every discipline touched by digital within your organisation but also set an example to other organisations and individuals who are struggling with digital transformation themselves.”

Christopher Ratcliff, editor of Search Engine Watch, discusses some worthwhile, though somewhat simplistic, ideas about digital leadership.

He does make some good points, however, and I like these few excerpts:

“There needs to be full understanding of exactly what digital can do for the entire organisation and its customers, and this can only come about through education and training. The whole team needs to be on board, right from the upper echelons of the C-suite to your intern that started a week ago.”

“Digital Leadership doesn’t only have to come from within. A digital leader for you can be a brand, a business or a person operating on the other side of the world, in a totally different industry, who you feel inspired by.”

“A true digital leader will also help those companies that are struggling with the demands of digital change.”

Check it out here: What is digital leadership?

Delegation: assigning tasks the right way

Today’s global digital tip is about delegation.

When I googled “how to delegate” or “tips for delegating tasks”, one of the top results I found was Michael Hyatt’s article about delegation, and I found and listened to his excellent podcast on the subject. If you don’t have time to listen, here are some of the tips he provides.

Successful Delegation Mandatories

Imperative #1: Admit that working non-stop is unsustainable
Imperative #2: Understand your unique calling
Imperative #3: Select qualified leaders to assist you
Imperative #4: Give these leaders responsibility and authority
Imperative #5: Only do those things which others cannot do

These are basic ideas, but I wonder if you have taken the time to really think about each and explore what each entails and how you can achieve this type of thinking.

#1 – Work during work time and rest during rest time. Determine what your sustainable work hours are and do them. FULL-STOP. If you have too much work and not enough time, the truth is you have poor delegation skills or are unable to say “no”. So first you need to fix these two problems before you can achieve a sustainable working life.

#2 – Have you actually asked yourself what is your unique calling? Think about the statement below and decide what only you can do. List your unique abilities and list everything that needs to be done. Perhaps structure it in two columns: ONLY ME and ANYONE. That ANYONE list is going to be what you delegate—all of it!

“Never do anything of importance that others can do or will do when there is so much of importance to do that others cannot do or will not do.” Dawson Trotman, Founder, The Navigators

#3 – Hire a professional employment agency or recruiter to find the right people for your needs. Stay out of the recruitment and interview process until the agency has narrowed down the candidates for you and pre-interviewed them. Step in at the final stages to interview the shortlisted candidates.

#4 – This is all about delegation. Hyatt expounds what this “responsibility and authority” entails. He describes 5 levels of delegation that managers should use in their office—and I have to say I love them!

Hyatt’s 5 Levels of Delegation

Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do
Level 2: Research the topic and report back
Level 3: Research the topic, outline the options and make a recommendation
Level 4: Make a decision and then tell me what you did
Level 5: Make whatever decision you think is best

What I have noticed when visiting many client workplaces is that managers very often give Level 3, 4 and 5 instructions to staff that should be given Level 1 or 2 instructions.

Hyatt doesn’t go into detail about how to determine which staff are right for each task, however common sense would tell any manager to test their staff.

If you give a staff member a Level 1 instruction and they do exactly what you have asked, on time and without dispute, they may have proved themselves able to move onto a Level 2 instruction.

If however, you are continually giving your staff Level 4 instructions and they continue to make decisions you do not agree with or they do not tell you what they did, you need to determine if you are delegating the right tasks to the right person or delegating correctly. Re-doing tasks your staff completed is poor management and poor delegation and is both micro-managing and unsustainable.

The other levels speak for themselves, but in my experience, I’ve rarely seen managers apply Level 1 to Level 3 delegation to their team. Today being affable and likeable as a manager is drummed into more managers minds than being a “manager”. If your staff do not want to be managed, then they either need to run their own business or work for a company with an “easy” management ethos—but, don’t let that company be yours.

#5 – When your delegation process works beautifully, by following the 5 levels above, this imperative: only do those things which others cannot do, will naturally occur. The beauty in your management will be either discovered for the first time or rediscovered.

Michael Hyatt’s 5 levels of delegation (under imperative #4) are mandatory for successful delegation and management. I recommend applying these levels in your office, and informing and educating your staff of the new process you are going to follow for delegation.

If you have problems managing tasks, delegating, “letting go”, micro-managing or with perfectionism, then this is the course you should try.

Once you have educated your team on these new levels, you can run your office like a high-level CIA operation informing your staff, “this is a Level X instruction, any questions?” And you will begin to see your staff fulfil your requirements, rise to higher levels of authority and ability and most importantly your work will be sustainable, manageable and fruitful.

The Fibonacci Sequence

It was in 1202 in his book Liber Abaci (Book of Calculation) that Leonardo Pisano (Leonardo of Pisa), would introduce to Western European mathematics the decimal number system that we use today.

In Liber Abaci, Leonardo Pisano, Fibonacci (a nickname attributed to Leonardo, meaning son of Bonacci, his father Guglielmo Bonacci), introduces a mathematical problem of reproducing rabbits, which in turn introduces the series of numbers which now bears his name—the Fibonacci Sequence or Series named so by French mathematician Edouard Lucas (1842–1891).

The Sequence was popularised by Fibonacci though may have been discovered earlier. Fibonacci was influenced by the “nine Indian figures” and Indian arithmetic and the Arabic numbering system, which included a zero to denote no value.

D. E. Knuth says in his book The Art of Computer Programming Vol. 1: Fundamental Algorithms errata to second edition:

“Before Fibonacci wrote his work, the sequence F(n) had already been discussed by Indian scholars, who had long been interested in rhythmic patterns that are formed from one-beat and two-beat notes. The number of such rhythms having n beats altogether is F(n+1); therefore both Gospala (before 1135) and Hemachandra (c. 1150) mentioned the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, … explicitly. (P Singh in Historia Mathematica Vol 12 (1985) p. 229–244.)”

What is the Fibonacci Sequence?

The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers starting at the number 1 and increasing by calculating the sum of the previous two numbers as follows:

1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 377 610 987 1597 2584…

The Sequence is infinite. And as the numbers increase, the ratio between succeeding numbers approaches a number that is now known as the mathematical ratio most “pleasing to the eye”: the formula for perfection or perfect beauty, the ratio of 1:1.618—the Golden Ratio or phi—noted by 1753 mathematician Robert Simson.

“The mathematician Robert Simson at the University of Glasgow in 1753 noted that, as the numbers increased in magnitude, the ratio between succeeding numbers approached the number α, the golden ratio, whose value is 1.61804…, or (1 + √5)/2.” (http://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonardo-Pisano)

Where is the Sequence found?

The Fibonacci Sequence is found in almost everything in existence. It is most commonly noted in the composition of art and design where the Golden Ratio is applied, and in music where Fibonacci numbers are the basic foundation of musical scales, notes and chords.

“According to Birken and Coon (2008, p. 59), Fibonacci numbers may appear also in the sphere of music. An octave consists of 8 notes and is represented on the piano by 8 keys. If we include sharps and flats, we add 5 black keys to the 8 white keys for a total of 13 keys, often referred to as the chromatic scale. The black keys themselves are positioned in groups of 2 and 3. All the numbers mentioned—2, 3, 5, 8, and 13—are Fibonacci Numbers.” (Management from a Natural Perspective: Discovering the meaning of Fibonacci Numbers for Management, Vlado Dimovski and Miha Uhan, undated)

By far the most obvious applications of the Fibonacci Sequence are in nature and the human body.

It was in the 19th century that scientists began to discover the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers in nature, “in the spirals of sunflower heads, in pine cones, in the regular descent (genealogy) of the male bee, in the related logarithmic (equiangular) spiral in snail shells, in the arrangement of leaf buds on a stem, and in animal horns.” (http://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonardo-Pisano)

The Sequence is seen in the branching of trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem (phyllotaxis), the fruit sprouts of a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone’s bracts. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci_number)

Fibonacci numbers in the human body’s DNA

“The DNA molecule, the program for all life, is based on the golden section. It measures 34 angstroms long by 21 angstroms wide for each full cycle of its double helix spiral.” (http://www.goldennumber.net/dna/)

“The use of Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Mean through-out nature and by man is well established (Bachmann & Bachmann, 1979, p. 73). Fibonacci numbers appear in geometry, algebra, number theory, and many other branches of mathematics.

“However, even more spectacularly, they appear in nature; for example, the number of spirals of bracts on a pinecone is always a Fibonacci number, and, similarly, the number of spirals of bracts on a pineapple is also a Fibonacci number.

“The appearances in nature seem boundless. The Fibonacci numbers can be found in connection with the arrangement of branches on various species of trees, as well as in the number of ancestors at every generation of the male bee on its family tree.

“According to Krebs (2008, p. 185), petals on flowers, seeds on sunflowers… and the ratio of your height to the distance from your belly button to the ground provide for more of the examples.” (Source: Management from a Natural Perspective: Discovering the meaning of Fibonacci Numbers for Management, Vlado Dimovski and Miha Uhan, undated)

The identification of the Fibonacci Sequence in all of life, art, design and nature leads to some exciting analyses and interpretations.

How can we relate the Fibonacci Sequence to business?

In his book, Business Transformation Strategies: The Strategic Leader as Innovation Manager, Oswald A. J. Mascarenhas writes:

“Beauty is essential to the art of management. The more our culture becomes technology and information driven, the more do we need the emotional and metaphorical power of beauty (Neumeier 2009: 69–70).

“Buckminster Fuller once said, “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong”.”

Mascarenhas continues:

“There is ample evidence of mathematical beauty in nature, including the breathtaking complexity of fractals, the ancient sacred ratios of geometry, and the surprising concordance and harmony of theories across disciplines. Take the Fibonacci Sequence wherein each number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two. A Fibonacci Sequence looks like 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on. In nature, this progression is best seen in the patterns of pine cones and palm trees, in artichoke leaves and broccoli florets, in the shapes of nautilus shells (whose walls spiral outward according to the same laws). In business, the Pax Group, a home-and-office appliance design company, borrowed Fibonacci geometry to reshape its fan blades, and produced products that are 15–35 percent more energy efficient and 50–75 percent quieter.”

In their paper, Management from a Natural Perspective: Discovering the meaning of Fibonacci Numbers for Management, Vlado Dimovski and Miha Uhan give a good overview of studies towards finding tangible (and intangible) applications of the Fibonacci numbers in business and psychology.

“There have been some applications of Fibonacci to the business sphere in the past, but most of them dealt with predicting the markets in trading.

“John D. Waskom… has sensed the possibility that human development was intended to match the natural order of the material universe. Waskom loved to relate it to the spiral and its occurrence in plants, seashells, galaxies, and the DNA helix… When he called attention to the fact that young children unconsciously used phi proportions in their artwork, Waskom was affirming that unspoiled humans possessed a natural genius for living “in sync” with the universe.”

In this study, Dimovski and Uhan relate a possible application of Fibonacci numbers to the four known areas of management: planning, organising, leading and controlling, as follows:

Planning—the optimal solution for debt/equity ratio might be close to the Golden Ratio, which would mean that the optimal capital structure for a company would be 62% debt and 38% capital

Organising—determining the optimal size of your company

Leading—when to review performance of staff or staff promotions (in months 1, 3, 5, 8, etc. or in years 3, 5, 8, 13, respectively)

Controlling—when to monitor the activities of your employees (in weeks 3, 5, 8, etc.)

Fibonacci numbers in operations and marketing

While Dimovski and Uhan have hit onto something exciting, I wonder if this application can be taken even further to the day to day running and operating of business and marketing.

For example, can we use Fibonacci numbers to determine our markup or pricing? 62% markup on supplies or increasing our pricing by 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 80% over a period of 1, 2, 3, 5 years.

Can we use Fibonacci numbers to determine the frequency of our marketing communications in campaigns? For example, in weeks 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 or on days 1, 2, 3 then 8, 13, 21 of each month for emailing newsletters to subscribers or posting online.

If we can identify a pattern of idea formation, of innovation and of strategy and link this to Fibonacci numbers, we may be able to define something very special in the growth of the human mind and in business.

Along these same lines of thought, Waskom “sensed that if he could establish a relationship between phi and human psychological growth, he could begin to describe a natural pattern of developmental genius throughout the lifespan.” (Rose, 1991, sited by Dimovski and Uhan)