The real epidemic we are facing in our modern lives is the epidemic of busyness. The need to win the race to be the most consumed with: work; life; social events; social media; and frankly anything else which we are capable of creating relentless breathlessness with.
I have spent the past <mumble> years trying to cure my own addiction to being busy. I have declared “war on busyness”; I have implemented maker-time in my schedule, I have preached about it to anyone who will listen and I have incorporated yoga and meditation in my life. I’m still nowhere near my goal. My heart beats to the sound of to-do, feeding my obsession with time management, productivity, organization and the never-ending to-do list.
My best work happens when I allow flow. When I create space and allow the work, the writing, the thinking to percolate and evolve. When I allow silence in my life and find time for reflection.
Simon and Garfunkel said it best in their pause-inducing song The Sounds Of Silence “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping.”
This song was originally written as “sound”, singular. The song - and the band - was initially a flop and so the song was tweaked to the version you now hear. And with that “sound” became “sounds”.
I prefer the singular, the idea that there is a resonance in the world we can find, that we can drop into and get inspiration from. When I did my TedX talk I spoke about how I love to look out the window when I am in a taxi or an uber and just let my mind meander. I’m sitting in the sound of silence and so much is processed by my subconscious in that time.
This world we live in is just so damn loud, how can you find some stillness?
One idea I really like is Maker Time. There is a great blog by Paul Graham where he talks about the concept, in many respects it is a negative treatise on meetings. The key idea is that you schedule time each day for creative work, which is something we should all be doing, whether you are a manager or a maker.
Another concept I love is surprisingly inspired by Bill Gates. Gates has a practice called a Think Week where he schedules an uninterrupted week researching and thinking about a specific topic. There are a number of great articles on how to conduct a think week, Michael Karnjanaprakorn is my favorite of the approaches I have reviewed.
A full week might be impossible for you but I think anyone can find a think day.
The best practice is actively cultivating window-gazing. There is so much power in finding moments in your day to allow your mind to go where it wants to go. To not actively form your thoughts and allow your thoughts to form you.
But that is just me, what is key to know the place where you find silence. Know it and be sure to go there from time to time