Conquering Lockdown


Great numbers of us are suddenly facing the prospect either of working from home in our substantive positions or, in many cases, reinventing ourselves as wholly self-employed workers. Home working can bring great opportunities but there are also challenges, not least among which is how to organise the working day. Faced with too much freedom, it is all too easy to squander the time and accomplish very little. Only you can know what you want to achieve. You are the expert in your field. But this article may give you a new way of looking at your work, based on a few widely applicable generic thinking modes. 

Identifying different thinking modes

Creative or inventive mode

This is where you open your mind to new ideas: new approaches to familiar tasks, new objectives. The aim is to source ideas, not necessarily good ideas. That judgment comes later. 

Intuitive or productive mode

This is familiar territory. It is your comfort zone where you are confident and well practised in what you are doing. You feel productive because you have a tangible output to show for your time.

Analytical or corrective mode

This is a retrospective mode and a vital feedback and learning process. It is where you try to falsify your creative ideas (if you can’t, they might be good ideas!) and where you correct and improve your earlier intuitive or productive output.

Reactive or event driven mode

This is the great time-thief and is more of an activity pattern than a true thinking mode. It is where you subordinate yourself to other people’s agendas, typically by reacting immediately to every incoming phone call, email, sms message and even social media. It may feel necessary but it should not be allowed to take over.

That feeling of stuckness

The familiar and uncomfortable feeling of stuckness, of knowing there is much to do but seeming to make little progress, very often arises from a failure to separate the three main thinking modes, creative, intuitive and analytical. In simple terms it is almost impossible to decide what to do (creative) while doing it (intuitive) while also considering better ways to do it (analytical). One solution, which you might be able to apply to your particular business, is to schedule your working day, or even a part of it, not by activities but by thinking modes. This can be considered a master or template schedule onto which you build your detailed activity schedule. An example should make this clear:

Sample daily schedule

Author’s note:

The sample schedule is inevitably generic. Only you can decide if it can be adapted to apply to your business. If the concept of scheduling by thinking modes appeals and you decide to try it, I would very much like your feedback, good or bad, and suggestions for further development.

Thank you for reading.