Bill Gates’ Think Week Practice Can Help Boost Your Creativity and Focus Your Mind

Lessons from his remote cabin in the woods.

Max Phillips
Mind Cafe
Published in
10 min readSep 25, 2020


Photo by Olivier Guillard on Unsplash

I’ve enjoyed reading for most of my life, but I have never dedicated an entire week to broadening my horizons. Twice a year, Bill Gates takes a self-proclaimed “think week.” He spends seven days of solitude in a cabin in the forest. While there, he is physically removed from the interruptions that come with being the world’s second-richest person. Therefore, he can sit down and think.

As Ryan Holiday writes in Stillness Is The Key,he might be alone there, but he is hardly lonely.” Gates reads paper after paper for up to 18 hours a day. Specifically, he would read innovation and investment ideas from Microsoft employees, relentlessly scribbling notes.

In 1995, a Think Week paper Gates wrote titled “The Internet Tidal Wave” led to the production of Internet Explorer. As the Wall Street Journal reports, plans to create Microsoft’s Tablet PC, build more-secure software and start an online video game business were all a result of the Think Week.

Stephen Lawler, a Microsoft general manager of the MapPoint group, said it is “the world’s coolest suggestion box.” As of 2005, Gates’ record stood at 112 papers. He would send emails to teams around the world, offering…