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Leaders know the importance of critical thinking, especially during difficult times. Yesterday it was the economy, today it is the pandemic, and we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Yet times like these require leaders to provide thoughtful and informed direction, helping guide their team forward–even when there is no clear path forward. 

You know your team looks to you for leadership. They trust you to bring them through whatever the crisis is, safely. Yet, you may be struggling to think clearly during these tumultuous times. Some experts call it a “brain fog,” as your attention becomes limited and you look for threats, both real and imagined.

 

Fortunately, Tanveer Naseer has provided us with some pointers to help clear the fog and lead as we are expected to.

 

Plan for thinking time. As your work schedule and location have shifted recently, you may have gotten diverted from your intended path. You can get back on track by scheduling time specifically for thinking. Working remotely provides you with more control over your day, but you also must contend with many more distractions. Leaders should block off thinking time in their calendars. All professionals should schedule a time for exercise, so they are not stationed in front of a laptop all day. 

Take a walk for quiet time. Sometimes, all you need to clear your mind is to get outside for a walk. Getting out of your office for a walk is an excellent way to boost your creative and critical thinking skills during challenging times. When you take a walk, you give yourself a quiet space to think and reflect. You also give yourself a change of scenery, which does wonders for your mental health. At the very least, it gives you a break from reading the latest news around the current crisis. See if you can schedule just 10 minutes a day to get some fresh air and walk around your block or office building. 

Breathe deeply. There is truth behind the phrase “take a deep breath” when you are upset about something. Breathing deeply and truly makes a difference in how you feel and think, both of which can impact your critical thinking skills. Researchers at Northwestern University conducted a series of experiments demonstrating that inhaling through the nose stimulates brain areas associated with memory processing and decision-making more than inhaling through the mouth. Additionally, when you inhale through your nose while absorbing new information, you can better retain that information.

 

Critical thinking is necessary to be the best leader for your team. So, be sure to give yourself time every day to think. Do not let a busy schedule get in the way of your planned thinking time. It is also a good idea to step away from your laptop occasionally to take a walk and always remember to breathe deeply–it can help you reset. 

While no one knows when the current crisis will end, or the next will begin, you can take steps now to guide your team through the weeks and months ahead. 

 

By implementing these tips, you can enable yourself and your team to think more critically and overall improve coping during challenging times. Try this–and thrive.

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