Weekly activity generates “best ideas”
Doug Hirsch has a surprisingly simple method for getting the best ideas: set aside three to four hours of alone time for in-depth thinking per week.
Hirsch, co-CEO and founder of prescription drug savings company GoodRx, believes in the method so strongly that he intentionally builds this alone time into his work schedule each week. Finding the time is a challenge — he and co-CEO Trevor Bezdek collectively manage more than 700 employees at a company with a market cap of $2.43 billion as of Friday night.
But it helps him succeed, says Hirsch.
“I find it helpful to take the time to think deeply and creatively, to really put that aside each week,” he told CNBC Make It. “It’s like quality time with myself. I step back from everything and really go deep to think about the best ideas.”
For Hirsch, that means sitting somewhere completely alone, often writing on paper or a whiteboard to construct his thoughts. These few uninterrupted hours help him express his “best ideas” to move GoodRx forward.
That usually means thinking about potential new products and features, studying changing consumer behaviors, and thinking about what their competitors are doing — and how their company could do it better.
Hirsch isn’t the only CEO who believes blocking thinking time is important. Ex–AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has forced his executives to devote four hours a week to reflection. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner plans about 90 minutes of daily “buffer time” to reflect. Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has twice-a-year “reflective weeks,” where he goes on solo getaways to reflect – one of which led to the creation of Internet Explorer in 1995.
You don’t need to be a CEO to do this either. This time can be useful for thinking about your career goals, considering all possible solutions to a problem you’re facing, or generating new ideas that you can present to your boss.
You do not know where to start ? Follow in Hirsch’s footsteps and schedule some time for reflection on your calendar. Whether you choose a few minutes each day or a large block of time once a week, treat it as ironclad and unwavering.
You could even block time off from your work day. A Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness survey found that some Fortune 500 executives spend as little as 30 minutes a day on “personal development,” typically late at night outside of work.
A 2017 Harvard Business Review article also advises making a list of questions that can stimulate your thinking: good ideas will “rarely just appear to you”, so it’s helpful to define exactly what you want to think about during your research time. reflection.
If you want to think deeply about your career, you might ask yourself questions like:
- Where do I want to be in five years?
- How much am I progressing in my current job?
- What are the areas of my work that I could still improve?
Hirsch has another piece of advice for anyone wanting to start deep thinking: engage fully.
“I think you have to be very disciplined to say, ‘I’m going to set aside this time for myself’ and then actually do it. It really takes a level of discipline,” he says.
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