Given the time of year we’re entering, I thought it would be helpful to offer some sage advice for all business owners and entrepreneurs. Between the holiday season, wrapping up end of year tasks and preparing for 2014, the next six weeks will be hectic and frenetic. Like many of the articles I write for this blog, I am writing this article, on creative thinking strategies for entrepreneurs, to myself – as a personal reminder to follow my own advice.
Thumb through your marketing library and I doubt you will find much written about the “power of pause.” In other words, the power of simply taking time to quiet one’s surroundings and mind with the intent of deep, creative thinking, reflection and in some cases, cooling off.
As busy entrepreneurs and business owners, we tend to be in constant “go-mode” and rarely give ourselves time to simply be quiet to clear our heads. Hopefully most folks reading this take time out of their day to eat right and exercise, but do you also spend time quietly, clearing your mind of mental clutter and noise?
If not (or you don’t do it on a regular basis), I would like to challenge you to consider adding quiet time to your workweek and add the power of pause to your schedule. If you can be intentional about this effort, I truly believe you will experience positive and possibly even extraordinary results. Here are some creative thinking strategies for entrepreneurs to consider.
Pause to Clear Your Head
Even the most top-performing entrepreneurs need down time. And by down time, I don’t mean pursuing your outside-of-work hobby or passion – I mean quiet, solitude time with the intention of clearing your head and thinking creatively. Your sole focus is intentional thought. Nothing else.
One of the most effective ways to do this, is to simply schedule time where you can go to a special place that helps you clear your head – a place void of electronic interruptions, gadgets, employees and other noise.
For some, it could be a beautiful location outdoors. For others, it could be as simple as a hidden away nook in a local bookstore. Wherever it is for you, try to unplug from everything and just give yourself time to think.
Create a special process to get the junk out of your head and allow the creative juices to flow. For you it might be a special book, music, or even something as simple as a cup of tea. There is no right or wrong answer (other than trying to get away from noise).
I have my personal place and process and have used it for years. There is no way I could continue to help so many other people, if I did not take time to pause.
Pause Before Launching a New Idea
Coming up with effective product and service ideas and the marketing that must surround them is not easy. Give yourself plenty of time to think before acting and use this time to let big, outside-the-box ideas percolate in your creative brain. During this pause period, jot down spontaneous ideas and thoughts in your own “idea book.” Challenge yourself to think differently and in new and creative ways.
For example, the time between coming up with the idea for this article and actually writing it was several days. I had the initial idea and jotted a few notes in my idea book. Then a few days later I was able to quickly write it.
This lends credence to what Dr. Maxwell Maltz described as the subconscious mind and its ability to work for you, without you even being aware it’s working. My subconscious mind wrote the article for me way before I sat down in front of the computer. If you’ve never read Dr. Maltz’s bestseller, Psycho-Cybernetics, you might want to, in order to gain new insights on how our brains function.
Pause Before Finalizing Marketing Promotions
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer any business owner is to “slow down” your marketing and give yourself time to create the best marketing possible. I know we’ve all heard the saying “good is good enough,” but I rarely believe that’s true. Not in this day and age where our prospects and customers have WAY TOO MANY opportunities to spend their money elsewhere.
I’m not saying spend weeks crafting a simple marketing promotion, but I am saying add a 24 hour period where you walk away from the almost finished promotion (the pause) and then revisit it with fresh eyes. Look at it from a different angle and better yet, put yourself in your target audience’s point of view. Chances are you’ll be able to make a tweak or two that will make it more effective and appealing to your audience.
Pause Before Doing Something Stupid
Mike are you listening? (sorry, note to self). In any given week, being a forward-moving business owner offers many opportunities to do something less than brilliant. Maybe it’s responding a bit too quickly to a customer who is being rude. Maybe it’s a knee-jerk response to prove you’re right and somebody else is wrong. Maybe it’s even doing something stupid on social media or email.
Whatever the situation, try to always pause before reacting or doing something that may otherwise cause problems. Trust me, I know this is not easy, but it’s a worthy goal.
Pause, Then Act
Finally, lest anybody thinks I’m advocating “paralysis by analysis”, I’m not. I’m simply suggesting add the power of pause to your business efforts. Whether it’s measured in seconds, minutes or hours, taking intentional time to think creatively, differently and objectively will help you and your business.
What Is Your Best Creative Thinking Strategy?
I would love to hear your systems and strategies for pausing and taking time to think things through. The three readers who leave a unique “creative thinking” idea I had not considered will receive a free Mike Capuzzi pocket ideas jotter notepad and pen set.