Finding Time for Strategic Thinking

In our fast-paced work environments, there is a natural inclination to keep our heads down and accomplish only the tasks directly in front of us at any given time. From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, we are bombarded with emails and social media alerts that require our immediate attention. Indeed, we are often rewarded on the job for our ability to navigate daily emergencies and constantly be available.

However, there is a cost to always being “on.” Constantly receiving alerts triggers stress reactions in the body, leading to physical and emotional fatigue. More broadly, when we are stuck in firefighting mode, we lose the ability to plan for and achieve long-term goals. This is why strategic thinking is such a powerful skill to develop. Instead of simply focusing on what exists around us, strategic thinking allows us to consider what could be in the future.

To move beyond the here and now and incorporate strategic thinking into your daily routine, consider these best practices:

  1. Avoid checking your phone when you first wake up. Though we might want to immediately connect with the world, checking your notifications instantly frames the start of your day around your immediate to-do list.
  2. Focus your energy on one task at a time. There is a wealth of research showing that humans are not skilled at multitasking. Fully investing your attention on one specific task improves your productivity and time management, allowing you to pursue long-term interests.
  3. Cultivate strategic relationships. Ask yourself: Who can help me get where I want to be in five or ten years? Identifying these people and actively seeking partnerships ensures that you are positioning yourself for continued success.

There will always be another email in your inbox, another meeting invite, and another pressing deadline. Still, finding the time to take a future-focused perspective ensures that you are always advancing your long-term goals. Elevating your thinking beyond the here and now requires discipline and intention, but it is well worth the investment.

Thinking Strategically, and many other topics, are covered in the updated Professional Government Supervisor Program.

Learn more about how to design a curriculum catered to your personal development needs at

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Leadership & Management
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