I was born a few years before Star Wars came out (the 1977 original). It’s hard to believe just how much the world has changed over the past 40 years. We had very few of the things we have come to love and adore today. No Netflix. No Amazon. No YouTube. No smartphones. No UberEats. No VR. Jeez, when I say it like that, I make it sound like I grew up in prehistoric times.
We didn’t have any of that stuff, yet somehow we survived. We found things to do. We entertained ourselves with Eye Spy, not the iPhone or iPad. We grabbed a ball and went outside and played with however was around. We spent time going through old books that we would never get to today.
Today, anyone can jump on the Oculus Quest and pick up a new game, download a movie from iTunes, spend hours honing their Fortnite skills, or listen to their favorite jams with their Bluetooth headphones while rock climbing at their local gym. They say that variety is the spice of life, but today the choices seem endless.
Contrast my childhood to that of my son’s and there is one stark difference: there were times when we had nothing to do.
Once I remember arriving at the airport only to learn that our flight had been delayed by two hours. As it was an international flight, we had arrived two hours early. That meant we were going to be stuck there, with nothing to do, for four hours. I spent the entire time mastering the pronunciation of one Welsh village – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch. And yes, that is how they spell it.
I’m not sure that would happen today. Most people would just shove in their headphones and watch a movie or pass the time chatting with friends.
It got me thinking. Today, we are so wired in. We’re glued to our screens. Our mind rarely gets a break. Our work often follows us home. Our smartphones have eliminated dead time. Today, we’re on call 24/7 even if we didn’t realize it.
Albert Einstein once said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Indeed. The problem is silence is missing from our lives. In the “old days” we had quiet time that allowed our mind to process everything, to get caught up and make sense of everything rattling around in our heads. With the explosion of information, it’s more important than ever to find time for quiet contemplation.
In studying productivity and time management, one of the stranger tips I’ve come across was mentioned by both Brendon Burchard and Darren Hardy. Their idea to boost productivity – take a walk. No phone. No gadgets. Just a walk down the beach, along the river or around the neighborhood.
Earlier this year I tried a digital detox, but merely took a break from social media. I found it invigorating. These days, I’ve found myself taking things to the next level, scheduling nothing into my daily routine. 30 minutes a day it’s just me, myself and I. Sounds simple, but the first time you try it, you’ll struggle. You’ll realize how addicted you are to tech. A 30-minute break is akin to going cold turkey.
I find it funny that in order to boost my own productivity and free up more time, I need to schedule more.
I schedule in exercise, reading/listening to inspirational material, writing, and nothingness, and in doing so, I get more done in less time. Too many people say they don’t like being tied down b.s. and as a result end up wasting hours doing things that make them feel productive, but really get them no closer to their goals.
Exercise takes discipline. Reading and writing take focus. But what excuse do you have for doing nothing?
I challenge you to try it once this week. No phone. No tech. Just go for a walk and be alone with your thoughts for 30 minutes.
Can you? Sure, anyone can, but the question is will you?
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