Last week, Mark and I were talking about our recent and upcoming vacations. Specifically, about how refreshing it is to unplug from responsibilities and technology. It reminded me of one day recently when my iPhone's battery died in the middle of the afternoon and I was forced to go without my typical distractions for a full four hours (gasp!). It was the most mentally productive four hours I've had in a while and here's why.
With nothing to occupy it, your brain regurgitates problems for you to solve.
This happens while you sleep too, but during daytime is much more productive. To take from the most common example, have you realized how often you get ideas while you’re taking a shower? That’s because you can’t do anything else! You heard it here first: if smartphone designers waterproof their devices, we’re doomed. So let me explain what I mean by “problems for you to solve”:
- Literally, a problem. I’ve found, and I’m sure you have too, that if I’m stuck on something at work, all I really need is to step away for a few minutes. Go for a five-minute walk and just look around you, the solution is likely to show up.
- Brainstorm a brand-new idea. This is the solution to the problem you don’t know you have. That’s what most new products are, after all. Don’t trap your mind with a glowing screen, and it will wander free. The farther it wanders, the more likely you are to find new territory and new ideas.
- Process your life. Constant distraction is an enemy of wisdom. Tweet that! What you do creates experience, but you must take the time and effort to process and learn from that experience to gain maturity and wisdom.
- BONUS! Write it down. Journaling improves memory and communication. Journal for a few weeks and see if you are not more readily able to counter your quick-witted friend or coworker!
Allowing mental space free of distraction in every day will clean up clutter in your brain, which will in turn reduce stress and let you be more creative. So leave your phone at your desk when you go to the bathroom, or in your pocket while you’re driving and walking, and see what your mind will bring back to you.