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Should executives spend time just thinking?

What nap time is to preschoolers, "Think Time" may be for AOL (AOL) executives -- a time to recharge.

AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong asks his managers to spend 10 percent of their workweek on "Think Time," according to The Financial Times. AOL didn't immediately return a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch.

Armstrong's "Think Time" was highlighted in "Driven to Distraction at Work: How to Focus and Be More Productive" by Ned Hallowell, who writes that Armstrong told him, "It's been a total game-changer for me and for AOL." Why is that? "The companies that take this seriously will have a major strategic advantage for years to come," Armstrong said.

While thinking is certainly an activity that investors and stakeholders would encourage in company executives, it hasn't necessarily yet transformed AOL from an Internet has-been into a rising star. The shares of the company little changed year to date, while the S&P 500 has jumped about 13 percent during the same time frame.

Still, the company has shown some improvement, with third-quarter sales rising 12 percent to $473.4 million, and net income rebounding to $28.5 million, up from just $2 million a year earlier.

Yet that's a fraction of the type of numbers pulled in by rival Google (GOOG), which reported $16.5 billion in third-quarter sales, or an increase of one-fifth from a year earlier. Net income also dwarfed AOL's, coming in at $2.81 billion.

Despite the time devoted to merely thinking, AOL's Armstrong himself has been involved in quite a few gaffes, which may have been avoided by a little forethought. Earlier this year, he apologized after making an offhand remark about why the company delayed its contributions to retirement accounts, blaming "distressed babies" who required millions in health-care costs.

In 2013, Armstrong was in the news for another misstep, when he fired an employee in the middle of a conference call.

The bigger problem with "Think Time," as pointed out by the FT, is that the strategy implies AOL managers aren't required to think for their remaining 90 percent of the work week. Nevertheless, the goal may be simply to carve out time during the day when managers can be free of meetings, email, and other distractions, allowing them to brainstorm or work on strategy.

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