The value of being stuck
If you see me traveling alone in a bus, train, underground or plane, it’s more than likely you’ll find me completely absorbed, writing on a small notebook. My father says I look like a paranoid schizophrenic, and he might have a point. However, that habit has given me the best ideas I’ve ever had. For example, I developed 90% of the techniques I used in my masters’ thesis in those small notebooks, while trying to keep my balance in the Madrid underground.
Having half an hour a day where I have no internet connection, no TV, no books and nobody to talk to gives my brain the opportunity to give shape to any small idea I might have had in the last days. Basically, I need to be stuck in a place where I can do nothing else but think. Some people use the shower for that, but I have a terrible memory, so I need to write things down to remember them later!
From late 2009 to late 2011 I worked from home, and lately I’ve come to realize that staying at home all day meant I didn’t really have any time to think. I was always online, always reading some article, blog post or documentation, writing code or watching a TV series. I learned a terrible amount of things in that time, but in the end all this meant that my brain was acting only as a data storage system, recording every little fact it could, but never thinking about them.
Now I have at least 30 minutes a day of “alone time”, and I always use that time to think about any interesting projects I have in mind. And let me tell you, I’ve never had so many good ideas in my life.
So, find a way to be stuck in one place for a few minutes every day, and think!