A few months ago I was grabbing dinner with my friend and former /newsrooms colleague Dan Hebert when we got talking about downtime. Dan told me something I rarely hear, "When I'm lying on a beach, on vacation, I just lay back and think." I interrupted, "Wait, you mean you don't listen to music, podcasts, or read, or play on your phone?" He replied "No, I just think. About stuff. About strategies for work [he's in marketing]. About anything really."
I shouldn't have been as amazed as I was. After all, we all let thoughts run rampant in our head. Yet I was still surprised by Dan's thought-sessions because I rarely visit my mind palace when I'm walking around downtown, on the subway, waiting in line. I'm usually checking Twitter or Insta, listening to podcasts, bumping to Kendrick.
So I shifted my entertainment habits. No, I haven't given up Spotify or my fave podcasts. But I'm finding more time to simply think when I'm walking to my work-sharing space. It's already proved a valuable decision: three days, while walking headphone-less to my gym, I thought of a great way to sharpen a grant I'll be applying for soon. Would I have come up with that idea another time? Maybe. Maybe not.
See, when I listen to music, I really like to listen to the tracks. I spot some creative layers in songs I may have missed the first few times around. The same with podcasts: they provide some fantastic mental nourishment when I want to bone up on history, politics, culture, etc. My mind is focused on what I'm listening to and I'm not giving myself the space to wander in a forest of idea and pitch a tent to find something worthwhile.
I'll challenge you to put down the phone, take out the earbuds and just let your brain do its thing. You'll be enamoured with what you'll dream up.
About David's Blog
I write about journalism, freelancing, the arts, Toronto, technology, sports and why egg nog is under-rated.