GLS21 Notes: A Minute to Think

Published August 6, 2021

Never before in professional history have burnt out teams needed to just take a minute. A minute of “time with no assignment”—to think, breathe, ponder, plan and create. As the return to a physical workspace plays out, there is good news. We have a spectacular opportunity to hit refresh and design a work culture that serves us better than ever before, with thoughtful time as part of the recipe.

In her talk at The Global Leadership Summit, efficiency expert, Juliet Funt helped leaders apply four time-tested ways they and their teams can reclaim these vital minutes in work and life.

Enjoy these official session notes to help you dive deeper into what you learned!

Juliet Funt



The Need for Space
    • When you start a fire, layers are best. It’s the space between the combustibles that fire cannot live without. The space is what makes the flames ignite and stay burning.
    • We often try to bring our best spark everyday but there is no oxygen to feed the fire.
    • I call this missing space, white space. The name came from looking at white spaces on a paper calendar, the indication of how much possibility that day could hold.
    • How do you access white space? You take a strategic pause.
The Window of Opportunity
    • We are in the most unique window of opportunity for thoughtfulness that we have ever experienced.
    • The WHERE question is the second most important topic about the next normal. The single most essential discussion to have is about the HOW.
    • This reboot is giving us a chance for behavioral redesign.
    • In what ways can we transform work so it’s no longer the hardest part of people’s lives?
    • Leaders need to stop, think, ponder and envision the future of the HOW they want to build in the new WHERE.

4 Ways to Pause: Recuperate, Reflect, Reduce or Construct

1. Using the Pause to Recuperate
    • This is when we use white space to reboot our exhausted brains and bodies.
    • We need a daily reprieve. Design your new HOW’s with recovery and recuperation in the workflow.
    • The tool? The wedge—a small portion of open time inserted between two activities.
    • The wedge always has bookends and is typically short.
    • Rest brings up emotions (guilt, shame, self-consciousness).
    • We must eradicate the shame of rest and replace it with the pride of self-care.
    • We must take ownership of our exhaustion. We need to give ourselves the permission to change.
    • Questions for teams: How and when can we clock out each day? What are the times before and after which we don’t take calls? What is our official agreement about taking disconnected vacations and PTO days? Are we as leaders modeling these replenishing behaviors?
2. Using the Pause to Reflect
    • Using the pause to reflect gives us the time for objectiveness and to take ideas to the next level.
    • Phil Knight had a special chair in his living room only to be used for daydreaming.
    • Leaders need to remove the power distance that interferes with honesty.
    • Ask our teams: What part of the current HOW gets in the way of their best work and what can we do to change it?
    • Imagine the legacy you would want and then work backwards.
    • Legacy is a story about you yet to be written, a tale with which you hold the pen.
    • Write legacy letters to yourself.
3. Using the Pause to Reduce
    • Take time to reduce the waste work on your plate. Let go of the unnecessary.
    • Research shows low value work costs $1 million in misused talent time.
    • Use SBH (Shouldn’t Be Here) to track boredom.
    • Boredom may be valuable evidence that you are in the wrong place in that moment.
    • Ask questions: Why am I bored? Am I the wrong person to be here? Am I redundant with other peers in the room? Is the content something I could have just read?
    • As you hear the SBH message, it will spur action. We hear more wins from this than any other meeting habit.
4. Using the Pause to Construct
    • Using the pause to construct uses thoughtfulness as a generative business tool.
    • By pausing, we experience what scientists call “beneficial forgetting.”
    • John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) identified two types of work: the open mode and the closed mode. Cleese would set aside ideas and then pursue it.
    • Set aside your good thoughts to see if a great one follows.
The Power of Thinking Together
    • When people think together, it is hard to pull them off the path (group think). But this thinking is directable.
    • Slow down and take a minute to think. You can believe any story you want to think about the next HOW.


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