Leo Babuta recently posted on zen habits a blog titled the No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People. He makes the case that Solitude is the No. 1 habit for generating creativity. He cites famous folks like Einstein, Picasso, Mann and others who were disciples of solitude as a path to expanding their minds. Bill Gates is famous for taking twice a year “Think Weeks” alone in the woods for reading technical papers, writing and thinking. Is alone time part of your regiment for expanding your creativity in business and personal endeavors?
Nicholas Carr recently released “The Shallows. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.” While I haven’t read the book yet, a major theme is that the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. As result of this connectedness, we are losing the ability to think deeply and our brains are being damaged. Can we effectively distance ourselves from the rush of information and our desire to have it?
Making solitude equally difficult is our cultural penchant for multitasking (right now, I am writing this blog, watching Morning Joe, reading tweets from @chrisldickerson and talking on the phone. My brain is eroding as I sit here). When you add work, personal and family commitments, how do you get the quiet time? It’s hard. Very hard. So pick your spots when you can. And when you do, my recommendation would be to think about big things. Don’t be distracted by the clutter in your head. Get beyond the tactical.
For me, I live in Glen Ellyn, IL and take the Eisenhower Expressway when commuting from the suburbs to the city. The crazy Chicago construction guarantees 2 ½ hours of solitude. I am sure this is not what Babuta had in mind but I’ll take what I can get.