The current social technology backlash has not only seen me respond in order to defend the tools and channels I use.. (http://bit.ly/frVzww) It has also seen me reflect on the amount of downtime I take in a day and how important that is.
The digital social tools we use are amazing. Sharing ideas and thoughts worldwide in the blink of an eye. But without a little time away to formulate these thoughts and ideas, we just regurgitate and retweet the same things round and round to one another.
I often get asked how much time I spend online.. Technically I am connected all day through a mobile device but I only spend about 4-6hours at a desk, 4 days of the week and have at least 4 hours of my day where I’m doing something that nurtures thought. Normally with my devices either off or out of reach.
In order to be innovative we need this quiet time to formulate our ideas.. Where do you go to think?
I have times I walk the dog with headphones and times I walk without. It’s always when I’m unplugged that I get the ideas that stay with me. For fun I occasionally go and practice bushcraft and although this gives me a chance to experiment with new tech and off grid power, it also allows me time to turn things off. It’s only recently I realised why I enjoy ignoring the dishwasher and washing plates ‘manually’. I can look out on the garden and just think. Sound’s strange but I ride a motorbike for the same reason. Yes, you have to keep your wits about you but there is still plenty of time to be alone in your crash helmet on the open road.
I find these places and spaces not only important for creative thinking. I feel we need them for our sanity. The tools allowing us to filter the chaos are not yet ripe enough for mass consumption so it is up to us to dial it down. If I need to get a piece of writing done efficiently and in limited time i use Ommwriter. It shuts off my notifications and gives me a blank page. There are more and more ways for us to focus but sometimes turning everything off is the easiest way.
Don’t look at those fronting the digital backlash as the enemy. Behind the sensationalist articles and bandwagon reporting are some interesting studies into the evolution of our brains.
The pioneers on the information revolution are forging forward with out any protective gear. They take a high pressure pixel hosing from multiple screens and the subconscious mind can’t process fast enough as it’s crammed full of noughts and one’s.
Until the equipment comes enabling us to filter, stem and channel all this input our only defence is the off button.
Should you want to know more, people are dropping some great comments and resources on the bottom of this blogpost: http://bit.ly/frVzww
Scott Gould says
Hey Christian.I’m right with you – I need time to reflect and am pushing myself away from being behind a computer as much everyday.I find a walk is a very helpful tool for me, as is driving up to the Moors and getting some breathtaking views in a place where there is no mobile phone signal. Bliss!
Walking the dog is great for gathering thoughts. I have a Border Collie and it takes a lot of walking to get him knackered, which buys a lot of thinking time.Running works as well. Indeed getting my thoughts together is good distraction therapy for the pain in the legs and lungs.But my favourite is travelling by train between Edinburgh and London and just staring out of the window. It’s hard to convince travelling colleagues that this is “work” but there’s a semi dreamlike state that only happens for me on trains, in which concepts and thoughts and loose ideas get shuffled and put together in new, usually constructive patterns.
Nice post, and an important point. There’s definitely a need to make sure we’re getting time to assimilate good stuff in order to produce good stuff ourselves. I wrote about something similar recently (http://thewayoftheweb.net/2011/01/out-of-the-toy-box-thinking/) as one of the best things about working at home at the moment has been that when I take a break for lunch, I grab a quick bit of time to hang out with my son. And it’s actually helping my work, because rather than going to a specific course to roleplay and be creative, I’ve got a toddler challenging me to be a better Gruffalo or to pretend to be ‘Daddy Mouse’ etc every day… And I’ve learnt a lot from the challenge of marketing bath time and bed time to a very unreceptive audience!
Michal Dzierza says
A very valid point. I try and make a conscious effort every night not to reach for my phone when I’m in bed. It’s not easy once this constant “pixel-bashing” has become a second nature. But not impossible.Last week I invested in a new pair of walking shoes. This morning, while waiting for my train, I re-lived the weekend in my head – the people, the sights, the conversations. And it made me feel more connected than Twitter, which I would normally check at that time of the day.I’m making progress.
Matt Frew says
This narrative highlights or evolutionary journey, symbiotic relationship with embodied technologies and the harried atomized lives we tend to live. While we love our tech we need to engage in techno-clutter, which is more than simply getting off grid. Clearly technologies virally contaminate our consciousness and, as you demonstrate, impact on the creative process. It’s interesting the different strategies we use to silence the white noise of our techno-culture and fight the urge for commentary cocaine.Reflection, silence and the observation of the simple things that surround us is highly recommended. Disconnect, reconnect with self and fall in love with the world!