Best July 2020 Calendar Designs: -What’s the first thing you do when you get out of a meeting or a class? When you’re walking between conference rooms? When you’re waiting in line? These in-between moments used to be opportunities to pause and reflect. Now, we eagerly jump into the communication stream, tuning in to the world instead of tuning in to ourselves. We rarely—if ever—think about the cost of doing this. So what if you take a few minutes to check your text messages? You can pass the time by flipping through your phone, or by taking a moment to look around and think, right? What difference does it make? Diving into my device engages me. Whether I’m communicating with others or checking website stats, it’s an intentional activity that will have a specific, often gratifying, outcome. By contrast, doing nothing during these moments of downtime feels less intentional. It’s an unfocused activity with no clear outcome—I am just being present in the moment, with my eyes and mind wide open.
Best July 2020 Calendar Designs
I would argue that taking time to experience the flip side of connected, intentional activity—to disengage from the stream and truly be present in the now—is crucial to the well-being and performance of creative minds. Consider it “filling the well,” as poet and artist Julia Cameron once put it. When we turn off one type of stimuli, we unleash another. Many years ago, while still in school, I spent a semester in Vermont at a program called the Mountain School. As part of the experience there, every student completes a three-day solo journey in the wilderness. They provide you with a tarp and other necessities and then send you off to hike to a camping spot in the Green Mountains. Just a few rules: no music, no electronics, and no company.
It should come as no surprise that my first day alone was extremely boring. I had no one to talk to, nothing to read or watch. I just sat there, mind blank. The constant external stimulation I had been depending on my entire life had suddenly ceased. My mind didn’t know what to do with itself. On the second day, however, something changed. My brain suddenly reactivated. I became truly aware of my surroundings: The quiet of an early April snowfall. The grandeur of century-old trees. The hours flew past. What I learned during my solo experience was that my thinking—my creativity and imagination—reached a new velocity as soon as I unplugged. When you tune in to the moment, you begin to recognize the world around you and the true potential of your own mind. There’s no executive in the digital era better known for long-term planning than Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon. In the early days of the company, when future-thinking was perhaps most important, Bezos would try to keep his schedule completely open on Mondays and Thursdays. Rather than playing catch-up or taking on a typical CEO schedule of back-to-back meetings, Bezos preserved a good chunk of his weekly time just to explore, learn, and think. He would poke around the various Amazon sites and spend time on the stuff he would ordinarily never get to do.
As Bezos explained in a WIRED profile, “I wander around and talk to people or set up my own meetings—ones that are not part of the regular calendar.” Setting aside this unstructured time to fully invest in inhabiting the present moment—to take the tenor of his team or fully dive into his own thoughts—has no doubt served Bezos well in honing Amazon’s long-term vision.
Most of us find very little time to casually explore, follow our whims, or think big, but this capacity is a major competitive advantage in the era of constant connectivity. Maybe we can’t carve out whole days for ourselves as Bezos did, but preserving pockets of time to unplug—perhaps a couple of hours in the morning a few days a week—can be transformative.