Take 10 Challenge: make and keep an appointment with yourself to think

We hear a lot about the need for public servants to innovate and to collaborate. However, how do we find the time to do this? The reality is that without attention, it is very easy for us all to focus our time on just what is in front of us, on the work we are doing right now. This focus can mean that we are not giving enough attention to the bigger picture or connecting with people in our divisions, agencies, across government or in our communities.

So what can we do? Well, to help us all remember to take the time to broaden our focus and look at the bigger picture and connect with other people, I propose we scheduled it. That’s right, make an appointment with yourself, which you must keep, and dedicate that time to really thinking about what you are doing and how it fits into the bigger picture. Now change is hard, so to make it easier, I challenge you to dedicate 10 minutes per week, just 10.


Take 10 minutes each week – Just 10 – and think about your work. Take time to consider how what you are doing fits with the bigger picture, what information you could be sharing, how you can connect with people in your division, agency, across government or in your community, or how you could improve the way you work or the way services are delivered or the way you deliver services.

Make an appointment with yourself for 10 minutes a week, every week and keep that appointment. It just might be the best 10 minutes of your week.

You might find the best time is those 10 minutes before or after lunch or the first 10 minutes of your day. It doesn’t matter when, but find 10 minutes where you don’t feel rushed or you are likely to be interrupted. In fact, find a place where you can spend 10 minutes and not be interrupted. Often the simple act of sitting or standing somewhere different can change your thinking.

You could do your Take 10 session in a group, but I encourage you to spend 10 minutes with your own thoughts before opening up to a group for discussion.

To help you with your Take 10 session, you might like to consider the Take 10 Challenge Questions. Clearly you don’t have to answer them all in a 10 minute session. Read the questions and see what thoughts they might spark.

Imagine the ideas and, in many ways more importantly, the action that might come from 10, 20, 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 public servants spending 10 minutes a week thinking about how their work fits in the bigger picture, how to better align their work, what information should they be sharing or seeking. The table below shows just how powerful just 10 minutes a week can be.

In Just One Week of the Take 10 Challenge

Public servants 10 20 100 1,000 10,000
Total Minutes 100 200 1,000 10,000 100,000
Total Hours 1.7 3.3 17 167 1,667
Total Days 0.2 0.4 2 21 208

[Note for simplicity the above table is based on an 8 hour day and a 46 week working  year]

Looking at the above table, if 10,000 public servants spent 10 minutes per week to just think, this is almost equivalent to one person working every day for a year (based on a 46 week working year), with no distractions or breaks. What’s more, this effort can be achieved every week.  It is hard not to get excited about the possibility of what might happen if a large group of people spend dedicated time to purposefully think about their work and then act on those thoughts.

I am interested in your Take 10 Challenge experiences.  You can email me or post a comment here about your thoughts on the Take 10 Challenge.  I also interested in knowing what questions you ask yourself.

Download: Take 10 Challenge – Template and Questions

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