Enjoy the silence
👉 world's worst subject line, but world's best advice
Hiya - I’m back after taking a long and relaxing New Year break.
I took plenty of time off to reflect and think - and so for the next handful of emails I’m going to share some tips and insights based on that reflection. In particular, what worked well for me in 2023 that I’m aiming to do more of in 2024.
I hope they’ll give you good ideas and inspiration you can apply in your own business and life. Some will be email and newsletter-specific, others more general.
The first fits into both categories.
When I look back at all the best ideas I had and the best thinking I did in 2023, almost all of it came from silence.
Sometimes it was me sitting quietly with pen and paper. Sometimes I was in the shower or brushing my teeth or doing a bit of gardening.
Very little of it came from sitting tapping away at a keyboard or fiddling with my phone.
Of course, eventually, there was a lot of keyboard tapping. And keyboard tapping resulted in a lot of great refinements and polishing and turns of phrases I’m pleased with and problems solved and stuff actually written.
But the raw ideas: they mainly came from silence.
From boredom in fact. From not having my mind occupied with clicks and buzzes and new emails and pings and alerts and all sorts of distractions.
But from finally switching off. And sitting.
Or doing something that half occupies my mind like gardening. Enough concentration on a simple task that the rest of my mind is free to wander.
I realised I just don’t have enough of those quiet times where my mind is allowed to be on its own. It’s too easy to feel bored, pull out the phone and do something pseudo-useful but ultimately low-value.
Or to start the day by plonking yourself down at the computer, opening up emails and getting straight into it.
But what feels like getting to work is actually crowding out the really important work. The work that makes a big difference and has huge leverage.
This year I’m going to do two things:
Firstly I’m going to try to be more mindful. To seek out quiet. To sit with pen and paper and leave my phone in my pocket. To learn to enjoy the silence.
And secondly - recognising that I don’t have the greatest willpower in the world - I’m going to do more activities that force me into silent mode. Gardening. DIY. Stuff that takes a bit of your brain and all of your hands. It’s difficult to distract yourself with your phone when you’re up a ladder mending the guttering. But while you’re up there you end up thinking.
It’s a small step I know. But I wonder if - like me - you distract yourself all too often. And you’re all too keen to jump into the “hard work” (that’s really the easy work because it doesn’t involve much thinking).
If so, maybe finding a bit more time for quiet would work for you too.
PS another thing for me for the New Year - not caring quite so much about perfection. Today’s newsletter subject line is an awful one. It doesn’t fit into any of the frameworks I teach. But it amused me to use a Depeche Mode song title as the subject line and that’s worth a lot I think.