Have you ever tried to start a project, felt completely at loss, put it off for a while, then worry over it and feel kind of guilty about it? But then, when you sit down to work on it the next time (usually right at the very last possible minute) it just flows?
This happens to me fairly often. I will start a project, make a few notes, then just sit there stumped or else allow myself to be distracted. After a few days, though, I can do the work. It has taken years for me to realize that it’s not procrastination but that I just need time to think. And the thinking is usually not a conscious process – in fact I’m usually not even aware that it is happening and just feel bad for not being “on track” with the project.
Here are 4 signs that you just need time to think:
1. You are unfamiliar with the subject.
If I am writing about a topic that is unfamiliar, I need time to read and think before beginning. Here’s an example: I have two clients for whom I do almost the same work. One is the owner of an art gallery and the other is a dentist. It takes about 2-3 days longer for me to get the dentist’s stuff done every month because I am far less familiar with information about what happens in a dentist’s office than I am about with information related to art.
2. It’s a big – or ongoing – project.
Any time a project is going to require multiple phases I am going to need more time for each piece of the plan. I almost always underestimate the length of time each step will take. It’s easy to think that with a detailed strategy the steps of a complex plan can be executed quickly, but you need time to adjust for new ideas and improvements.
3. There are lots of ways it could be done successfully.
When there are lots of ways to approach something, you need time to figure out what will fit best with your overall strategy, what will be most efficient, what will be most effective and so on. You don’t want to finish the project and later regret not doing it differently.
4. A creative approach is essential.
You cannot force creativity. You can, however, encourage it and allowing your mind to relax and wander is a good way to do that. You may not feel like you are working while you are sitting in a swing pondering the sky, or kneading bread, or whatever you do to relax your mind, but if you need to be creative you are working. The trick is to apply the thoughts that occur to you during these times.
I hear people say “I work best under pressure” but what they probably do is work best after they have had time to think and process and get mentally ready to do the work.
What do you think? Do you find that putting off work sometimes makes doing it easier? Do you think that sometimes “slacking” is actually “thinking?”