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Don’t Forget to Take Time out

August 20th, 2013 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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There seems to be a drive in today’s society towards voracious consumption. There is so much “content” out there! but it’s important to take some time away from the buzz and enjoy space for thoughts of our own.

A Reminder

I was listening to Mur Lafferty’s podcast recently (specifically I Should Be Writing Episode #297 I think). Mur was talking about being “addicted to content” and having to take time out to give her mind some space. She does this while running; most people get this time in the shower.

This lead me to think a little about my own activity recently, being someone who is constantly doing something.

Lately I have been feeling very distracted, more tired than usual, not getting much done, yet feeling like I’m working all the time.

I have also been having longer showers recently, and the last few times I’ve been running, I have been listening to podcasts. Hmmm…

running on the beach

Nothing like an early morning jog to clear your head. Image courtesy of whologwhy.

A Mind of its Own

I realised that my routine had subtly changed. Recently I have not been running at all, but before that I had been breaking a rule.

I was behind on my podcasts. As you may know if you’re a regular reader (thank you), I have a lot of podcasts I listen to and i regularly get behind on them. On this occasion the backlog was huge, made worse by the fact that the podcatcher app I use insisted on corrupting files because my iPod was low on space. Queue regular deleting and redownloading.

To combat this I looked at extra time to listen to podcasts, despite the fact I spend at least forty minutes a day on them anyway. I started listening while I was running.

Two things happened:

  1. My running speed decreased significantly
  2. I started to get crap at everything

I had forgotten that running was intended as my “me” time, my “headspace” time, whatever you want to call it. And it’s my only scheduled time for that.

The Importance of Mind Space

Of course, I can’t be sure that’s the reason for my poor concentration and inability to stick to my other routines. I do occasionally drop out of my routine anyway, and everything normally suffers because of it. I have never felt quite so bad about it before though.

Memory is made of connections

Free your mind! Neuron image courtesy of Patrick Hoesly.

The plan now of course is to get running again without the podcasts. Even if things do improve, I won’t take it as proof that this was the problem. It could be any number of things, such as

  • a better frame of mind due to making a positive decision
  • getting back into a familiar routine
  • the fact that I’ve been thinking about my poor performance a lot
  • exercise, rather than headspace

to name a few.

Nevertheless, I still feel such headspace is important, even if I can’t prove it by experimenting on myself!

Here are the benefits I expect to get from this regular moment free of consumption:

  • Relaxation. Okay, I’ll be running, but I’m talking about relaxation of the mind, man. I think I have slowly been wiring my brain to lok for the next thing to consume! It needs to chill.
  • Space for processing. It’s all very well consuming stuff, but how am I ever going to make use of it without that time to subconsciously make connections.
  • Creativity! Yes, from connections comes creation! This is the route of all inspiration. Have I mentioned I have not had a new idea in ages?
  • Problem solving. Getting through those worrying writing problems can happen subconsciously if you give yourself enough RAM. And work problems, and home problems too.

So here’s hoping.

Over to you:
Have you scheduled regular time away from other distractions? What’s your technique – exercise, meditation, long baths? Or maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree and free mind space just isn’t a problem. Whatever your opinion I’d love to hear it! Pop it down there and start a discussion!