098 Think Week

I read and think.

Warren Buffett

Bill Gates has revealed an important practice which helped him think very well during the early years at Microsoft.
Twice a year, Gates would take a 7 day Think Week. He would go to a secluded location in Hood Canal, Washington with stacks of important papers and books. He would cut off all communication with family, friends, co-workers and employees—basically he would be secluded from the entire world except what he would read and think about. He planned in advance what he was going to think about. A caretaker would provide him 2 meals a day. And the whole week, he would just read and think.

This practice is said to produce the famous memo written by Gates for Microsoft employees in 1995 – “The Internet Tidal Wave”. Apart from that, a week of thinking about relevant subjects for Gates (and his business world) would make his highly complex mind still and let him “think his best”, as Melinda French Gates explained.
He would come out a week later with a mind full of clarity, with sparkling ideas and great solutions to pressing problems.

I love the idea of going on a Think Week. Some critics may scoff at this notion as an act of “wasting time”, yet the way I look at it as a practice of saving and actually increasing time. Time well spent on addressing problems, getting clarity on important subjects, and attaining peace from the monkey mind will not allow serious compounded damage later on. Think Weeks retrieve, not squander time.

Still, if an idea of a whole week spent on thinking scares you, you’re not alone. Instead of then spending an entire week in a secluded monastery sort of place, why not have a Think Weekend, or a Think Day, or if you want to start really small, a Think Hour. Surely you can spend the above small amounts of time on honing your skills or becoming more mindful and creative—a better thinker. If you take those small sums of time try doing it every month, instead of just twice a year.

The idea of thinking can vary from person to person. But the main goal is to get clarity. You want to get clarity on the important subject you’ll be thinking about. A clear mind lets you think better. New ideas and inspirations spark up. You get creative. And you understand things. When you sit down, without the presence of all the daunting distractions and inputs we usually get bombarded with all the time and focus on just the thing you want to be focusing on … you don’t even need me to explain to you how incredible that time is going to be for you, your mind and your work.

So start small, if you like. Or go all in. But invest time in thinking. Invest time in not being constantly pinged and distracted from your real goals. Read about relevant topics. Think about them. And experience the wonder of getting actual “Eureka!” moments.

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