My best ideas have always dawned on me either in the shower, just before I fall asleep or at times when it was really, really quiet. I got more snippets and bursts of energy than big ideas that I’d then carry through, and, in fact, some of the ideas that resulted in the most profit or opportunity for me presented in this way.
Somewhere, I recently read the following quote:
“In silence there’s conversation.”
This immediately got me thinking about today’s society and the subject of silence. Silence is definitely not something we’re used to in today’s modern world. In fact, many of us would probably not even consider living in a silent world – one in which we’re not multi-tasking to be highly productive.
But actually, if you really think about it, there is no true silence. Even in quiet times we aren’t truly silent. You can find us texting, tweeting and “checking-in,” as we’re a Googling population of multi-taskers surfing the Internet on the tips of our fingers – even in our “down” time.
Professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have noted that our society’s instantly-gratifying instant messaging has dumbed down the students they teach. Sherry Turkle, director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self said,
“I teach at MIT. I teach the most brilliant students in the world but they have done themselves a disservice by drinking the Kool-Aid and believing that a multi-tasking learning environment will serve their best purposes. There really are important things that you cannot think about unless it’s still and you’re only thinking about one thing at a time.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I am an avid “tweeter,” still trying to strike up a dialogue between myself and Guy Kawasaki, founding partner at Garage and co-founder of Alltop.com. But I have found that there’s a real value in silence because it forces the mind to have one linear focus toward which to move. All of the impressions coming at us every day bifurcate the brain and do not allow it to pursue one thought.
So what’s the solution? Here are five ideas that can help you get rid of the noise around you and focus on your creativity and work.
- Simply unplug. Shut off the Blackberry and, as my husband says, “Don’t tell the entire world what we are eating for dinner.”
- Rediscover a free hidden treasure that offers a trove of silence: the public library. I recently did and walked through the stacks, picked up any book I wanted and read words from the greats: Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss.
- Sit down, put pen to paper, and write down everything that comes to mind no matter how crazy. You’ll be able to focus and you may come up with some great ideas with which to serve your clients.
- Meditation also inspires great new ideas. If you clear your mind for even a few minutes you’ll find it much easier to focus and be creative throughout the rest of the day.
- Take a walk. By getting out of the house or office and going to a quiet place, you’ll find that you’re able to concentrate on the day’s tasks and think things through more rationally and without interruptions. This doesn’t mean taking your Blackberry or iPhone with you. Distance yourself from technology and give yourself a few minutes to just breathe, without multi-tasking. You’ll find it’s much easier to concentrate when you get back to your work.
It’s a lot more difficult than you might think to disconnect and take time out of the day for yourself. However, when you give yourself proper room to breathe and the space you need, you’ll find this isn’t just something you’re doing for yourself. Working with a clear mind is a valuable gift to your clients as well.
Multi-tasking is sometimes a more efficient way to get things done, but only if you’re productive and approaching your work tasks without frustration. Make sure to take time out to shut out the noise, embrace silence and listen to yourself. It’s your ideas and your hunches that are making you succeed as a business owner and entrepreneur, so honoring those will allow you to get where you need to be. Shutting out the noise and succeeding in embracing your own creativity is the way to success for you, your business and your clients.