Finding a strategic target can be a difficult task. It takes time and energy to think about ways to improve your long-term situation. The most effective solution that I have found is forming good strategic habits. A strategic habit is an established trend to regularly think and act more strategically. Here are three easy steps that will help you develop your own strategic habit and start you down the path to being more strategic.
Identify Your Distractions
Daily operational activities and distractions are the biggest obstacles that keep most people from thinking strategically. The first step to creating a strategic habit is to identify some of the distractions that take up your time throughout the day. These distractions could be emails, employee questions, supervisor tasks, phone calls, meetings, customer needs, or even administrative requirements. Make a list of the fires that you fight on a daily basis and evaluate which ones are within your control.
Create a Plan
The second step to forming a good strategic habit is to create a plan to manage at least one of the distractions that keeps you from thinking about your future situation. In your plan, outline ways that you can manage your daily beasts. Here are four items that will help you frame your plan.
- Delegate – Use the knowledge of others. Assign some of your tactical tasks to individuals that could benefit from the added experience.
- Defer – Delay activities that do not add value or are not high priority.
- Delete – Eliminate redundant tasks or obsolete responsibilities.
- Develop – Fin new ways to streamline your workflow.
Manage Your Time and Mind
Now that you have identified a key distraction and set up a plan to manage that distraction, find time in your day to think strategically. Decide on a practice that you can do often and allows you to be in a strategic frame of mind. Establish mental disciplines while you think. Manage and prioritize what you think about. Block out thoughts about short-term tasks and focus on the future. Think about the bigger picture and the possible scenarios you might encounter. Look for areas that will allow you to achieve advantageous conditions. Be open to the thoughts and ideas you come up with.
My strategic habit is blocking out fifteen minutes of time, right after lunch, where I focus on the possibilities the future might hold. I leave my computer turned off, I don’t answer my phone, and I have a meeting with myself. Every job is different and has different responsibilities. Becoming a strategy expert requires you spending time thinking strategically. Find and develop your own strategic habit that allows you to prepare for the future. Possible examples include:
- Scheduling yourself a time block – This gives you time to connect with your thoughts while eliminating daily distractions
- Changing your environment – Find a quite space that is not your regular work space.
- Meditation – Learn a relaxation technique and block out tactical thoughts.
- Discussion about your long-term ideas – Seek out the opinions of trusted friends, coaches and mentors.