We will in an amazing era. Humanity’s collective knowledge travels in our pockets with us everywhere we go. We can instantly communicate with anyone in the world in a few taps of a button.
With great power comes great responsibility though and the truth is our phones act like tractor beams for our attention, powered by addictive apps designed by experts in creating habits. I’m sure I’m not the only one who instinctively feels the need to grab my phone during every small moment of downtime to check the latest and greatest the Internet has to offer. One of my goals in the coming weeks is to consume less and to contemplate more, then those thoughts into creations.
Everyday millions of tweets, Instagrams and updates are posted. Billions of emails are sent. With 2.6 billion words in the English Wikipedia, there’s a lifetime’s worth of reading there alone.
Consuming is fun. It gives our brain’s a quick dopamine hit of accomplishment. But it’s also dangerous. Our brains lose 50-80% of what we learn after the first day. There’s also no tangible artifacts that you read something. If you can’t remember what you consumed and there’s no proof that you spent the time, did it actually really happen?
Don’t get me wrong. I think learning and believe consuming is an important step toward sparking new ideas, but it shouldn’t be 100% of all idle time. We should consciously make sure we’re applying the knowledge accrues towards developing new insights.
Contemplating (or better know as thinking) is the next rung on the good use of idle time ladder. Thinking about what you read, digesting it and using those that new information towards developing original thoughts throughout the day is a rewarding process. I actually don’t do this enough anymore. It’s a rare occupancy when I just sit by myself outside and think – no humans, no phone – just me and brain mulling over the world.
Contemplating is surprisingly meditative. Letting your mind wander in whatever direction it want is a welcome break from th always on distractions a of the day. It reminds me of the minutes before you fall asleep where you have an amazingly deep thought because your mind is cut off from any distraction.
Contemplating is a much better use of time than consuming. Were inundated with new inputs and we rarely spend enough time digesting it all. Unfortunately with the always-on expeditions of society we don’t take time for ourselves anymore to exercise our brains.
In fact, this entire blog post is a result of purposely taking the long walk to the coffee shop. I cut myself off front technology and ended up realizing I should spend less time on my phone and more time with my mind.
The main issue with contemplation is that it suffers from the same weakness as consuming. You don’t create a footprint by just contemplating and the rest of the world doesn’t benefit from you’re thinking. Which brings me to the highest form of idle time…
Above all else there is creation. Making the jump from consuming, to contemplating to creating is hard and a process I struggle with constantly. Creating is the most rewarding use of time thought. Unleashing your thoughts through creating helps you. It creates more opportunities to connects. It helps build a reputation for original thoughts. It shows you can execute. And above all else sharing your creative work may strike a chord with another person.
Some of the people I respect most, and ultimately ended up getting to know are the creators. They are the people who shared a blog post I desperately needed to read for validation during the hardest times of my startup. They are the people who post an interesting quote that I can relate to. They are the people who help me think through my thoughts and make sense of the world.
How do they find the time though? How do people write a blog post a day?
On my walk this morning I realized… They make the time. Th easiest way for me to make the time time is to convert the dozens of moments where I typically consume into creation time. I have a device in my pocket that empowers me to share my thoughts, so I’ve decided to utilize it. Sharing now only helps others, it’ll help me too.
I want to be a creator. I want to help others by sharing what I can. I want to help my future self. So here goes nothing… My new goal is to consume less and create more. Stay tuned.