Health & Well Being

Episode #340 – Beyond The Buzz: Why Busy Women Need Quiet Time To Think

April 30, 2024

I’m Cherylanne.
I am the trusted advisor ambitious women want in their corner to help them fully embody their potential.
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Are you ready to embark on a journey to reclaim the serene spaces in your fast-paced world?

Cherylanne champions the cause of quiet time amidst the whirlwind of a busy professional woman’s life. She’ll explore actionable strategies to fine-tune your focus and sharpen your decision-making acumen simply by embracing the art of thoughtful pause.

Tune in to discover how the most successful women prioritize moments of reflection to elevate their efficiency and clarity. Ignite your potential by gifting yourself the time to think—because a clear mind is your ultimate tool for achieving greatness.

Show Highlights:

  • Discover why busy women need time to think. 00:41
  • What happens when the noise around you gets to be too much? 01:48
  • The antidote to suboptimal results  05:50 
  • Discover the empowering freedom of shifting your perspective. 07:25
  • Here are the basics of an effective thinking process. 09:12
  • Have you ever felt overwhelmed by constant input? 09:50
  • Exciting ways to create a thinking time for yourself. 12:06
  • This is what you need to know about proactive processing. 15:31

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So, if your life looks anything like mine, and if you’re a listener of this podcast, it just might. Things can get a little buzzy without even meaning to, without even trying very hard, without even lifting a finger. I think life in this chapter has a lot of buzz. And what I mean by that is just, there are a lot of moving parts. We have a lot of things on our plate, a lot of plates spinning. Whatever metaphor you want, this is a chapter where there are a lot of things happening around us or within us or that we’re causing to happen kind of all the time. And because of that, there can be a lot of noise. I always, as soon as I say that, I always think about the Grinch, you know, covering his ears saying, “The noise, noise, noise, noise.” It’s just there’s so much input coming at us, and when we have a lot of noise and a lot of input and we don’t create time to think or we don’t have a lot of time to think, a couple of things can happen that really trip us up and get in our way. And that’s sort of the basis for today’s episode. I want to talk about why women whose lives are busy, who have a lot of things going on simultaneously, not just deserve time to think but literally require it. Like why it is an imperative that we find that time to think.

The first thing I want to talk about here is that when we have a lot of noise and a lot of input and a lot of stimulus and a lot coming at us, we can end up in one of two states as a means to sort of cope with the overwhelm, right? We can shut down completely and go into almost paralysis, where we just do nothing. And this is what you get when you’re maybe tempted to start a Netflix marathon. Or you find yourself just kind of rearranging the things on your desk or on your desktop, right? On your computer without actually doing anything. Or you find yourself wanting to go putter, right? Like in the backyard or in the kitchen, and you’re just kind of doing nothing. You’re literally paralyzed from taking any kind of action. That is a predictable and kind of frequent outcome from this state of affairs. The second thing that we can end up doing when we have a lot coming at us is we can go into frantic action, right? We’re kind of this frenetic bumblebee just doing whatever is in front of us, and we’re staying in perpetual motion, and we’re buzzing around just taking care of business. And I think that is the second very prevalent state that we find ourselves in, right? If we’re not paralyzed, we’re kind of this bumblebee flying around taking action. But there’s some danger of the kind of action that comes when we’re in that frantic state, and I think of it as like when we’re doing without thinking, when we’re just staying in perpetual motion.

First, we could take the wrong action, right? We can just not have paused long enough to ask ourselves, “What should I actually be doing here?” Doing something feels better than doing nothing, and we’re at risk of taking the wrong action, which potentially creates rework, right? It potentially moves us off track or perpetuates a problem that we’re already in. So, the wrong action is a danger. Second thing we could do is we could be taking an inefficient approach, right? When we just kind of jump in with both feet and splash around and try to do it, our approach for doing the work can be inefficient. There hasn’t really been forethought to plan. How might I do this? Do I really need to do this? Is this the best way to do this? We’re just kind of splashing around, so it can be inefficient. Best metaphor I can give you for this is if you go to the grocery store without a list. You know how you’re kind of moving back and forth like if somebody mapped you, on GPS inside the store, you’re zigzagging back and forth right? End to end of that store and through the aisles, up whoops forgot I needed this thing that’s in the canned goods aisle, up now I got to go to the dairy, up I forgot this thing by the bakery, up I have to go to produce. You know you’re kind of all over the place and I think that’s a visual I get around an inefficient approach to our actions. And the third thing that can happen is we can take the right actions but in the wrong order, right? We can get all the things done, but when we’re doing those, we may in fact be doing the right things in the wrong order. We’re kind of out of sequence. And doing things out of sequence means it’s not optimized. There’s a better way that we could have taken those steps and we never really sat down to think about what that might look like, so we never found it. Okay, so I think those are the three risks when we’re doing without thinking: we can be taking the wrong action altogether, we can take an inefficient approach where we’re backtracking a lot, or we can take the right actions in the wrong order, which gives us suboptimal results. And really, the antidote to all of this is so simple. Is that right? It’s right under our noses, but it doesn’t feel very easy to get to. And that is to take time to think, to actually pull out of this frenzy of doing and give ourselves an opportunity, ideally a quiet opportunity where we can kind of gather ourselves. And there are lots of different ways to articulate what I mean by thinking. Lots of different verbs that came up for me when I was putting this episode together. You know you might need time to reflect, sort of look back at what’s happened and extract some kind of meaning or pattern from that reflection. You know you might need to ponder some options and really just float around a little bit without the intention of making a decision, being more expansive in your thinking about what’s possible. Um, you might need to plan, like to actually sequence a series of steps and get them in order and move them around a bit until they feel like they’ve landed in the best possible pathway. Um, you might need to make a decision, and decisions, actually contrary to popular belief, we don’t just let time pass and then the decision comes to us. Like there often is a process that we can follow to help us evaluate options before we make a decision. That requires thinking time, right? We might need to shift the way we think about something. I think of this as a perspective shift most often, but sometimes the narrative that we are stuck in is not very helpful. And if we can shift our perspective and find a different narrative, sometimes there’s freedom in there and we’ll find a better way forward. Um, sometimes thinking could be to improve something, right? We think about: is this good enough? Is this process working? Do I like the outcome I’m getting? Is it helping the relationship? But we might look at is there some area that we can improve or adapt, right? Even if it’s not like an objective improvement, there might be an adaptation that we need to make that will never occur to us if we don’t give it a little thought. We might need to be ready to enroll or engage someone else, and if we don’t have time to think, we don’t even have, we haven’t even thought about that. So we’re kind of rolling solo when if we could enroll or engage other people, we might be able to get support. That’s always a good thing, right? We might need to make an idea bigger, like all of these are just verbs that kind of stream of consciousness came to mind for me when I started thinking about thinking, about thinking, right? Why do we need time to think? And it was reflect and ponder and plan and decide and shift and improve and adapt and engage and augment, like all those things I just walked you through, they’re all under this kind of master label of thinking, and it’s something that we’re not doing enough of, right? We’re just not giving ourselves the benefit. It’s like we say, I don’t have time to think, and because of that, we’re really focused on doing. And I think that it’s hurting us.

Okay, so when you know that you need time to think, when you’ve agreed to the premise here that having time to think, especially quiet time to think, would be beneficial, and want to walk through three things that you can do that. What do you think, right? What does the actual process look like? First thing we have to do is slow down or shut down altogether the input that’s coming at us. When I really think about the root cause of this, I did an episode not long ago on being more intentional about your information diet. What are you consuming? The twist on that for this is we may need to just reduce it overall for a while, right? In order for us to think and to really work with what we’ve already taken in, we need to slow down or shut down the input train, and the input train is coming at us pretty fast these days, right? Some of us are getting most of our input from social media, right? From new channels. If we just take the word social out, these are new media channels. We are consuming information through Instagram, through LinkedIn, through Facebook. Sometimes, I think it’s less so than it used to be, through threads or Twitter or X or whatever we’re calling it if you’re still using those channels. And I think there’s a kind of vacillating interest in TikTok, right? These channels of new media are where we are getting a lot of our information, and it is like a firehose turned to maximum volume. It is just coming at us in torrents of information that’s so hard to keep up with. Add to that the email newsletters, the email that we’re getting through work and our personal lives, Slack channels, Asana, and other, you know, collaboration hubs. Like, we have so much input, slowing it down, shutting it off altogether for a hot minute so that you can think is really, really powerful. And it is the first step, and most of us think, I can’t, right? I can’t because if I close the gate, there’s going to be a flood outside that door. And as soon as I open it again, I’m going to get completely overwhelmed. Possible, right? Possible, but I think the power of having that pause is still worth it. The power of temporarily slowing down or shutting down the input. Think about the last time you were on an airplane, and if you didn’t have Wi-Fi on the airplane, what did that feel like? I love that feeling because I think it puts you into a vacuum temporarily where no new information can get in. It’s like you can deal with the information that’s already come through the gate. No new information can get in for a minute. And putting yourself in an offline environment to slow down or shut down the input is very powerful. Okay, there are lots of ways to do this. You know I think being on an airplane is one where it sometimes happens organically, but we’re going to talk in a minute about some of my favorite ways to create this thinking time. If it’s not being created for you, alright? So slow down or shut down the input. Second thing, the second piece of the step of the process is proactive processing. Proactive processing, this is where either verbally or in writing, you’re going to sort through all of the stuff that has been swirling around in your head. So verbal processing. If you’re a verbal processor, and that is how you think, then this is like thinking out loud, right? You may have someone that you’re going to sit down with and talk to, and that could be a colleague, a family member, somebody that you pay to do that with you, but you are going to go back and forth and kind of process through your thoughts by verbalizing them. That is time-consuming, and it requires a partner in most cases. Now, some of us have tested this idea inside of coaching. We’ve tested verbal processing with ourselves. Like you could turn on a Zoom call with yourself and kind of watch yourself have the conversation. Some people are like going for podcasts, or for podcasts, going for walks, and opening up a voice memo and speaking while they’re out on that walk, like you just look like you’re talking to yourself or you look like you’re on your phone. And they might put AirPods in, and they’re speaking into a voice memo as a way of verbal processing. Some of us are in like Marco Polo groups, which is a little app that allows you to voice text. Voxer allows you to voice text back and forth. So verbal processing is where the words are coming out of your mouth as a way. To dance with the ideas and find a way that you can have that regularly if you know you’re a verbal processor is super important. Okay, it actually counts as thinking. Second way to do it is through writing.

And so writing is where you’re kind of thinking on paper, right? If verbal processing is thinking out loud, written processing is thinking on paper. Um, and you know I’m not being really prescriptive here. It could be a literal paper with a journal. It could be a digital experience where you open up a notes app or you open up a Word document and you’re getting your thoughts out. But being able to kind of dump your thoughts into a document, again, either handwritten or digitally typed, is a way of having a record of what you have shared. So. Actually, I love how the AI tools are starting to help those of us who are verbal processors have a record of what we’ve said. It used to be difficult now. It is very easy to get a transcript or and a summary of what you have shared. So if you are like I just need to talk at this computer for a half an hour and then I need a summary of it I mean Zoom will do that for you right? And you can get a transcript of your spoken words very very easily today and that is new and I actually think very powerful for those of us who are more verbal. So. Second step of the process when you’re getting time to think is proactive processing, shut down the input and start working with what’s already in there, right? What are the thoughts swirling around in my head, and then back to all those verbs I shared, do I have a decision I need to make, do I have a perspective I need to shift.

Do I have someone I need to enroll or engage in this idea so that they can help me with it? Do I need to optimize or improve something that’s not working quite right in my life, like which of those verbs is kind of the thrust of the processing that you’re doing and then the third step. So that you can complete the loop and not just feel like that was a colossal waste of time is synthesize and strategize synthesize and strategize so we’re going to slow down or shut down the input altogether so that we can go into proactive processing and then we’re going to synthesize and strategize. What we just processed so this is sort of the now what piece of things this is where we’re going to translate into action what we have just thought about and that is going to be a better action. It’s going to be more efficient, more sequenced, more intentional than if we were taking frantic action. Right? This is thoughtful action. This is the action that comes at the end of 1 of these sessions where we’re like all right I know what I’m going to do or try or communicate. So How you go through this process is frequent. I frequently cycle through this process. Sometimes it’s a short session. Like I just need time to think and I’m going to go sit with a journal or a notes app and kind of get my thoughts together.

Sometimes I need a conversation with someone. I need to talk this out and I’m going to use somebody on my team or in my family or my personal life to just talk through it and at the.end of it. Best case scenario. It’s moving me to action. The synthesized and strategized part says ok now I know what I’m going to do . So How do you do this? Where do you enable this if your life is so buzzy right? And there’s so many plates you’re spinning and so many things coming at you here are some of my favorites. I’m in this stage of life. Um, this is what I do personally when I’m trying to get that time one is to go hide out right? just hide out this can be in your own home. You just want to be in a place where you intentionally make yourself less Accessible. So I Absolutely love it as you know. Weather gets warmer on my back patio. We have a sunroom kind of off the patio. I Love to hang out there where I’m just a little bit removed from the flow of the household. Sometimes I’m closing the door to my office and saying I’m just going to hide out in here for a minute. Um, sometimes I’m like. Ah, in the basement like in a part of the house that people are not in if I need to process so you can. You don’t even have to leave home to get time to think. Sometimes you can just hide out somewhere inside of your existing home. Okay You also can use your car and I love it. There’s memes that circulate about this and I think it’s funny because it’s true, right? Some of us are sitting in our cars in our own driveway like we’re home but we haven’t yet gone inside because there’s a little bit of time there that we can eke out, especially if you have young kids or a lot going on at home. Um, you might use car time to call somebody and verbally process something. You might park your car at a kid’s activity but not go inside right and use the time in your car if you have a long car trip that you need to get somewhere and you’re alone in the car. Think it’s great for some of this true silent thinking time and if you have a partner in that car that is a good listening partner. Um or you can call a good listening partner, long drives are a great time for processing you but you don’t have access to as easily as a way to have a record of it. But if you can, if it’s something that you know you’re going to need to talk through for a while and then at the end of it. You can do the synthesize and strategize step separately. I think that can be very effective so car time is great. Um, another one that I think we all can use is the walk and talk so this is where you are going for a walk. And processing as you’re walking. So anybody who’s ever walked with a girlfriend knows this is true, right? You couldn’t solve the world’s problems on a good hour-long walk so being able to um, have a 2 for 1 where you’re getting a little bit of movement actually enables processing like there’s science behind that. As you are moving your thinking can become more clear so I love a walk and talk I use them all the time and then the getaway the ability to actually step out of your day to day life for a day two days three days a week whatever you can swing

And be in a different environment like changing up your environment of what it looks and feels like ideally with that on ramp and off ramp called a long drive or a flight and so much processing can happen during that level of quiet time. Where you’re out of the day to day flow. Okay, so inside of my company and the communities that we run we are taking people on retreats. This is one of the purposes for that. It is great for me. It’s great for them. We step out of our day to day life. We get on a plane. We go to a place with a complete change of scenery and there is time to process decisions, right? We change the way we think about things when perspective shifts when we are in those kinds of environments. So I love it when I know that I’m going to like Starbucks and get on a plane to turn off all the input from the outside world. And really have some time to think that I can be away from people who need me, away from a business that needs me and just be able to come back with new ideas or better ideas. So if this is something that you you know you’re in this stage of life you know that life is buzzy there’s a lot happening There’s a lot needed of you and you feel like I just don’t have time to think again my goal today was to make the case that not only do you deserve it. But you fundamentally require it in order to make the kinds of decisions that are being asked of you day after day.

You do not need to go buy a cabin in the woods and go full Henry David Thoreau to make this work right? You can find it in small doses hiding out within your own home, kind of using time that you’re in the car locally or doing a short getaway. I think in addition to the walk and talk, those ideas really do work and they will. They’ll kind of build um, familiarity for you with this, you’ll start to see the results so that you don’t give you courage to do it in bigger and bigger ways and I’ll just end by recapping those 3 steps of the process. We want to slow down or shut down the impact coming at us so we can go into proactive processing either verbally. Or through writing and then ultimately synthesizing and strategizing so we know what we’re doing next once we’ve come out of the session. Take that with you today. Do something brilliant with it in your life and we’ll see you next time. Thanks for tuning in.

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