Thursday, April 15, 2010

Down Time from the Digital Roar

Just after writing about the Digital Detox Week, I came across this interesting article in the Unclutterer blog echoing some of the same ideas I have been thinking about managing ones focus and creative time. Organizing the Creative Mind by guest blogger and author Scott Belsky. I love the title, even. Doesn't it sound so warm and encouraging? Yes, it is possible to organize the creative mind!

It seems he has a book as well, Making Ideas Happen, which also sounds worth finding.

He offers several observations about how you might "organize projects and manage your energy" to make your ideas happen.

This article is chock-full of inspiring ideas, but the one idea that really hit me, especially in regards to the Digital Detox Week, is how we have been conditioned to be "reactive" with our energy - responding to endless input - rather than proactive. To avoid getting sucked into the vortex of incoming emails, messages and other contact, he says,
some people schedule “windows of non-stimulation” in their day. For a 2-3 hour period of time, they minimize their email and all other sources of incoming communication. With this time, they focus on a list of goals – not their regular tasks, but long-term items that require research and deep thought

I am reminded of some kinds of meditation in which one sits quietly and quiets the mind so as to notice what ones deeper self might have to say. Who can hear the whispers of our soul beyond the shouting of the demands of our life?

The internet is endless stimulation of one sort or another. Expand that to include all digital devices, and it's clear many of us live thoroughly washed in a dull roar (or deafening shout!) of input. Who can hear quieter whispers beyond all that input? Not me.

Perhaps I am so smitten with this description because it seems to frame the unplugging as a respite from the onslaught. Unplugging for a while is not just a nice idea; it's necessary "down time."

I'm looking forward to pursing other projects that have nothing to do with the digital world. Maybe I will look about me with new eyes. Perhaps I will put my hands on real life projects, something with texture and heft and scent. Perhaps I will find mental space to think about deeper issues in my life. How is my life going? What new goals are pushing forward for attention? Perhaps I will take more naps and laze about on the couch. Sleep is always good.

Scott also writes about what he calls insecurity work, those "small repetitive actions don’t help you make ideas happen.....just help you feel safe." Yeah, I'll check email one more time, look for an update one more time. I can see how that would chew up lots of energy and time. It's likely that the smaller the distraction, the more ultimately time consuming it is because one doesn't even notice the minute bits of energy put into them. They add up without one even noticing.

My hope for unplugging includes being more aware of how I use my digital time. Am I just spinning my wheels? How much of what I do is actual productive time? When I'm conscious of what I am doing, I have to admit that much og what I do online amounts to nervous tics of faux productivity.

I'm still a little nervous about unplugging. What if something comes up that really needs my attention? What if somebody really needs to get my answer on something? What if I am overrun with emails while I am gone? What if my sister or friend needs me? What if...?

It's a good thing to notice, huh? What energy am I losing feeling anxious about keeping plugged in? I'm thinking that whatever it is that's landing in my inbox, certainly nobody is dying, or losing money or sleep over it, so I might as well let it go for a while.

I was just gifted with fresh strawberries. I'm think I'll start the week with pie.

1 comment:

TIGHTWAD said...

Hi! Just saw your comments on another blog about 8 things by your bed and you mentioned a ceramic by Jim Thompson. Are you from Ottawa and do you know Jim? I used to housesit for him! Small world.