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Edition 116 – Solitude

From the time we wake up almost until the time our heads hit the pillow at night, we are bombarded. Emails, phone calls, meeting requests, interruptions, complaints – you name it, it’s there. In my opinion, we’ve experienced some great technological advances over the past 30 years. I don’t know if mobile phones beeping away and never leaving our sides is one of them.

During the 18 months that I’ve been in my own business, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of solitude. You cannot function day to day, for hours on end, without giving yourself some time to let your thoughts wander.

It’s taken me a while, but here are some techniques I’ve developed that have helped me in my business – and perhaps they may help you in yours.

  1. Up Early – often I’m up between 3am and 6am. Maybe it is the time of life that I’m at now but after a solid 5 to 6 hours of sleep, I’m ready to get going. I find the early mornings both productive and restorative. If I have work to get on with, that’s a great time to day to do it whilst the brain is fresh and the emails are quiet. If there aren’t so many pressing things to get on with, its a great time to read, think differently and do a different type of work – work that is creative or outside the norm.
  2. Reflection Sessions – once or twice per week, late afternoon, I’ll hop in the car, head into Camden and grab a coffee. I take with me my notepad and pen and I proceed to write down my thoughts. They may be personal, client related or something I’d like to do in business. However, I find the time out of my day to day environment is important – and the time doing it on my own, without anyone I know hanging around me equally as important. It’s amazing the level of clarity you can develop when the chatter from others stops.
  3. Driving – I love driving my Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint. It goes fast, it makes lots of noise and its fabulous to indulge my passion for home-made sports sedans. If I’m heading off to meetings, sometimes I’ll use the journey to catch up on calls. More often than not, I turn the iPod up loud, tap away to whatever tune is playing at the time and let my thoughts wander. I love to feel the car’s connection to the road. If it’s a road I travel often, I’ll adopt the same line into and out of a corner as I’ve done previously, allowing my brain to think about how the car feels in the process, and turn off any other chatter that may be in my head.
  4. Music – particularly when I’m travelling, I love turning on the iPod, popping in the ear buds and tuning out. When you’re listening to the Thompson Twins, wondering to yourself how can they be twins when there were three in the band, you open your mind up and you let it wander. For me, music creates different thoughts, memories and possibilities. It also relaxes me and prepares me for the meeting or event I’m heading to next.

Twenty years ago, in whatever business you worked in, you employed a receptionist or secretary to open your mail or take your calls. Now, thanks to the iPhone, whatever role we’ve always played has been overloaded by dealing with our own mail (via email) and answering our own calls (because everyone has our number). Consequently, we endeavour to cram in as much as possible into every single day. However, whilst it is productive on some level, I question if it is productive in the long term – or healthy.

What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. However, I challenge you to find your own piece of solitude, at least once per week, to clear your head, allow your thoughts to percolate, and let your mind think differently about the personal, professional and business issues and opportunities that are in front of you.

This Week’s Tip

“Diarise your time for solitude – it’s the only way it has worked for me. Make it a regular appointment in your diary so that you make the effort to spend some time with the most important person in your life.”