A colleague shared a tough conversation that he had with an employee, then wisely said that he was leaving its resolution until tomorrow. “Time and space give things clarity,” he said.
I couldn’t agree more.
Allowing yourself time to reflect on a situation often produces insights that are hidden at the moment. When I am stuck on writing a dot, I often take the dogs for a walk or do something else. I watched the Senate debate and was unsure of my candidate until I slept on it and suddenly had a clear choice. I recently did a quick analysis of some data and only after I re-examined it did I realize my initial error in the setup.
In the workplace, time and space allow people the opportunity to consider the broader consequences. I disliked answering a request made in the hallway because while it may seem like a good idea on its own, I needed time to think about other implications. Time can provide a buffer to soften disagreements and retain relationships that may be damaged if the conversation continued in the moment. Walking away from a vexing issue allows time for incubation and new options to emerge.
We face a lot of pressure to constantly be “on” and respond instantly to the barrage of communication and issues thrown our way. It doesn’t have to be that way. Set the expectation with others that you need some time to think. Don’t apologize for saying “I’ll get back to you on that.” Shut off the input at a certain point each day to allow time and space to process what you have already encountered. You’ll be wiser and less overwhelmed if you give yourself the grace to ponder.