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We need to redefine productivity. As AI takes admin off our hands, our creative mindset and problem solving ability is likely to become the currency of careers. Being busy can no longer be worn as a badge of honour. Enhancing consciousness for how we spend our working hours is critical for better decision making, emotion regulation and creativity. It makes us better leaders and team members. But in fast-paced environments, how can we practically carve out space to think?

1. Create a ‘to think’ list

Often we have something we’ve been meaning to reflect on, but can’t do it in the moment. In the same way you create a ‘to do’ list, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis (Amazing If) suggest creating a ‘to think’ list1 – then set a timer and pick an item off the list to put your brain power towards.

2. Have a ‘monk mode morning’

A phrase coined by Bruce Daisley – this means creating deliberate deep time in the morning to work on things that matter, with no interruptions from the digital or physical world. Close emails, turn off notifications, set an out of office if you need to. As a leader, set precedent for your team to have a ‘monk mode morning’ simultaneously to compound the benefits.

3. Be ‘bursty’

Research has shown that teams working in ‘bursts’ of rapid communication and engagement, followed by periods of concentrated work, are more productive2 and find it easier to get into the all-important flow state.3 By contrast, teams that receive communications in dribs and drabs miss out on both opportunities to truly collaborate and focus.

4. Set up a thinking meeting

The extraverts among us may prefer to think as a group. Bringing together a group of thinkers to focus in on one topic every week is a great way to solve your biggest challenges. You could use design thinking techniques such as ‘crazy eights’ to structure your session.4 Do this in-person for best effect.5

5. Ditch the meeting room

Whether you are virtual or physical, create space through getting on your feet. Research suggests that walking meetings can increase creativity by up to 80%.6

Redesigning for maximum efficiency

Carving out time to think doesn’t mean locking yourself away, or adding more to your workload, it’s about consciously designing your day to ensure the way you deliver creates the additional space you need for creative problem solving – and in an AI-powered world, this may be the differentiator that makes the difference.

Charlotte Eastwood

Looking for more ways to help you and your team redesign for maximum efficiency in 2024? Explore more of our insights here.

People, culture and change