How (and why) some leaders take a week to do nothing but think

Every leader should take a break to do nothing but think, Skillshare founder Michael Karnjanaprakorn argues in Quartz.

These thinking breaks are "definitely not a vacation," he writes. Karnjanaprakorn shares that, during a Think Week, he typically dedicates the entirety of each day—5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.—to reading, reflecting, and writing.

Bill Gates decided during a Think Week in 1995 to prioritize projects at Microsoft related to the internet, Karnjanaprakorn writes. In his own work, Karnjanaprakorn shares that he uses Think Weeks to reflect on big-picture goals for himself and his organization. He argues that leaders must step back from executing daily tasks to ensure the organization is heading the right direction.

Karnjanaprakorn offers five recommendations for taking your own thinking break:

1: Start small. Karnjanaprakorn acknowledges that not everyone can take an entire week away from daily tasks at work. Instead, he recommends trying just one day or a weekend.

2: Disconnect. For a thinking break to truly be effective, Karnjanaprakorn recommends spending your time alone and removing all technology and other distractions.  

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3: Set goals. For his own Think Weeks, Karnjanaprakorn writes, he chooses a theme: a decision, trend, or topic he wants to focus on. This helps him build a reading list for the week and use his time effectively.

4: Treat it like work. Karnjanaprakorn shares that he keeps a strict morning routine during his Think Weeks, which "sets a productive tone for the rest of the day." His own routine includes reading, journaling, meditation, exercise, and a cold shower.

5: Plan adjustment time. It may take some time to break out of your day-to-day concerns, Karnjanaprakorn writes. He recommends building in an adjustment period, such as the first day of your Think Week, where you do relatively light activities such as hiking or reading unrelated material (Karnjanaprakorn, Quartz, 11/14).  

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