Life has been anything but quiet lately. We’re having some work done on our house and I am surrounded by contractors, both indoors and out. There is pounding overhead, unfamiliar voices on the porch and the dog barking at all the activity. It has made me keenly aware of distractions, as well as the toll they take on our ability to think, create and be productive.
Disruptions come in many forms—from the simple ringing of a phone or knock on the door to major life events such as moving, having a baby or an extended illness. They are part and parcel of life. Sometimes we bring them upon ourselves (as in the case of our house project); occasionally we allow them to occur without really meaning to; often they are completely out of our control.
By its very nature, the world we live in today cultivates interruptions. We carry phones with us everywhere we go and sit in front of computers that constantly tempt us with email, social media and the opportunity to explore. Many companies have moved from individual offices and cubicles to open-office plans. While this increased connectivity has its benefits, it can also wreak havoc on our ability to focus and produce.
Disruptions shift both our focus and our energy. Significant disruptions can hit us on a much deeper level, as well—stirring up emotions that may take longer to come to grips with and move beyond. Even with something like house renovations, the disruption in daily routine and a feeling of invasiveness when there are workers traipsing through your hallways or painting outside your bathroom window can be unnerving.
"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."
Not all would agree with Einstein. I’m not even sure I do, as I believe occasionally breaking out of routine to explore new places and ideas is a great way to spur creative thinking. And I know there are those who are at their most creative when collaborating with others. Yet, at least for me, there is an essence of truth in this statement. For me to move on with new work, I need quiet time to focus, think and find a sense of creative flow. I need extended blocks of uninterrupted time. Lately, I haven’t even been able to get to the studio, much less have blocks of uninterrupted time there.
I will be glad when this house work is done, when things are back in order and quiet is returned. I plan to leave the phone in the car, unplug the computer and lock myself in the studio. If you try to reach me and don’t get an answer, you’ll know why.