On creativity, doing nothing and getting distracted.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

This one is going to be a slightly longer one, so go make yourself a cup of tea, maybe close your iMail, Outlook, whatever it is, because that's kind of what this post will be about. 

I really enjoyed Rosie's Monday Resolutions so far, I like the idea of setting yourself goals, because actively thinking about them, makes you both consciously and subconsciously put a focus on that goal. I've actually read a lot about the theory behind goal setting, because I had a module about this last year at uni (and it was probably the module that taught me the most in terms of things that would actually make me a better manager one day), and also in the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, which I can highly recommend. Just for the record, it's not some sort of self help book, it's more like almost a diary of someone who tries to actively implement little changes for one year, focusing on a different area every month, in order to, you know, be happier, but, and this is what I found the most interesting about this book, not because the author was unhappy to begin with, just because she thought there's room for improvement for everyone, and I agree. 

For this course, we had to set ourselves three goals (that were based on having analysed ourselves through diary writing), and I chose creativity as one of mine. Whilst doing research on this, I came across the idea that one thing that inhibits creativity is that we hardly ever not really do anything anymore, and by this, I don't mean not being efficient and spending your time refreshing your Facebook/Twitter page. What I mean (and what was talked about in the book) was doing nothing and letting your thoughts wander. Like watching raindrops roll down on a window. I (and I’m sure a lot of other people) used to do this so much as a child, it’s strangely calming and also just kind of fascinating. Or, another thing I used to do lots when I was younger: listen to music. When did you last just listen to music? Without doing anything else, like studying/being online/talking to somebody else? I can’t even remember.

I only read about this by pure coincidence. I was actually pretty angry that day, because I confused dates in my head, which meant I went to London a day early for an interview (better early than late though, right?) and I felt like I had wasted time, because I was so stressed about uni anyway. But, in a desperate attempt to stay positive, I decided to work on this module, and went to the local library, where I then read about the power of doing nothing. So when I came back from the library, I decided to give it a go for 15 minutes or so. I’m sure it’s a lot more effective when done regularly, but not only did I really enjoy it, but I also came up with one of my favourite recipes so far (link)! I didn’t do the not-doing-anything for the purpose of anything in particular, I definitely didn’t think of food, yet I was actually a little bit more creative that day.

However, as happy as this made me, I haven’t actively tried to do it since. The only other times, where I did something similar was whilst being on a longer drive, when at some point, I just turned of the radio and enjoyed the kind of calmness, which in a way always helped me to put things into perspective and become more positive again.

So, my resolution for the time I have left between finishing uni and starting in the working world, is to find more time for doing nothing, to listen to the rain fall.

The other thing I would like to work on, is on not getting distracted so much; I want to focus more on whatever it is I’m doing in that very moment. I for one hit cmd+T way too often every single day, and often end up with over 20 tabs open. This doesn’t only make my macbook exhausted, but it also leads to me being distracted. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get things done, I do. If I need to, I can work on something for hours without looking at much else. What I mean is, when I do things that are supposed to be leisure and fun, I don’t indulge in them, because at the moment, I can’t even write a blogpost without interrupting it every single time I get an email, or the facebook tab shows that there’s a notification. I can’t read a book without refreshing my Twitter feed every couple of minutes, and I want to actively stop this! I want to go back to the days, where I wouldn’t even look up once an hour, because I’m so absorbed by a book, I want to start doing whatever I’m doing properly and concentrate on it. Taza wrote about how they don’t use their smartphones on Sunday, and I think it’s a great idea! I’ve decided that when I’m doing something like reading, I want to turn the don’t disturb thing on my iPhone on, because with this, saying I have to have my phone on me in case of that someone really needs to get through to me, can’t be an excuse. It can be set, so that if someone rings twice within 10 minutes, it does get through, which I think is a great feature. Otherwise, it can wait until I’m finished. I’ve also decided to unsubscribe from all these newsletters that I never ever read, but that give me a notification and thereby distract me for absolutely no reason! And sometimes, I might even go crazy and shut down my iMail completely when I’m doing something that doesn’t require emails.

I know this was a long blog post, and if you’ve made it to here, thank you so much for reading it, it shows that you get less distracted than I do, but as I said, I’m working on it.

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