We all anxiously look forward to new software releases. We like hearing about the new features and fixes that might help us become more productive. We like reading the articles and the perspectives of others. We like to think about how we might implement these new features and share them with others.
While getting software upgrades is great and moving forward with new releases of your favorite tools is exciting, what about an upgrade for you? You may ask, “What do you mean an upgrade for me?” I mean, what have you upgraded in your work life recently? What new approach have you been trying? What updated process have you rolled out? What have you upgraded about yourself?
Think about it… every year software developers are offering upgrades. New tools are coming along that can supplement the software on which you depend. Everyone is trying to grab a piece of your mind to wedge in the possibility that their tool can make your job easier, better, faster, cheaper, or whatever. They have been thinking about this release for probably many years back. Now it is your turn to think.
You can think about the software and processes that you use. You can think about the people around you and how they go about getting their jobs done. You can think about where your firm is headed. You can think about how much work it is going to take just getting the new software in place.
The list may seem endless when it comes to what needs to be done at work. But do you ever think about you? How much time do you spend reviewing what you have done? What kind of time should you put into planning your future? What’s new with you?
Being introspective is a lost art. Think about it… but wait, no one thinks about much any more… at least not very often. I have sat in waiting rooms, airport terminals, restaurants, and other places where I notice that most people’s free time is filled up with using a device to check email, connect with others, or play a game. Don’t get me wrong. I do that, too. I grab my device and check on the latest. I look to see if anyone is trying to contact me, or if they have posted something that I really do not want to miss.
I wish that more people (including myself) would take time to think about things rather than look for more information to push into their heads or fill the time with meaningless activities.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website… “The American Time Use Survey collects information about the activities people do during the day and how much time they spend doing them. For example, on an average day in 2012, Americans age 15 and over slept about 8.7 hours, spent 5.4 hours doing leisure and sports activities, worked for 3.5 hours, and spent 1.7 hours doing household activities. The remaining 4.7 hours were spent in a variety of other activities, including eating and drinking, attending school, and shopping.”
I am not sure why there are only 3.5 hours working. Those totals must take in the weekends and the unemployed.
But how much time was spent just thinking? How about 17 minutes during the average 24-hour day. That is what the above survey uncovered. And that is down from 2003. Take a look - http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/leisure.htm . I realize that people think all the time, but what is reflected in this survey is the time spent devoted to thinking. And this data is mixed with relaxing, which is often spent napping or just not thinking about anything. This data reflects the US population. What might the time be for other areas of the world?
So what do you think about during your 17 minutes? Here are some suggestions.
- Think about your career. Where are you headed? Do you have a plan or even an idea of how to get there? When will you start? What would you do if you wanted to look for a new job, or if you lost the job you have? How far can you move up the ladder at your present firm? How will you move up?
- Think about how you can make yourself more valued at work. How can you add to your expertise? How can you get others to recognize your value?
- Think about your education. What are you doing to expand your knowledge in the CAD or BIM world? What formal and informal goals do you have for moving yourself forward? What kind of time is set aside for training and education? The average—per the survey—is 30 minutes per day. A half an hour per day spent taking in new knowledge or in educational pursuits.
- Think about how you can improve your management and leadership skills. What new book will you read? What podcast should you start listening to? Who might you want to approach as a mentor? What one management trick might you put into place this month?
- Think about service projects in which you might become involved. There are so many ways to help others. There is so much need. It might be getting involved in an effort that your employer supports. It might be setting aside some time to get your entire family involved in a community service effort.
- Think about ways to connect with your family and friends. Work is not the main thing that should take up your time. Relationships are vital to a balanced life. You are the only mom or dad your kids have. You may be the best friend that others need right now. You should make the time for others rather than hope that it magically appears.
- Think about what you will do this week for you. Not what you will do for others or your firm, but what you will do for you. It might include job tasks or activities with friends and family, but map out what you hope to gain from each event or task. It might include some time to yourself. It might include more time with the family.
By just taking a little time to think, you might uncover some area that is out of balance or needs a little more focus. Making progress starts with the thinking process. It’s time to develop something new in you.