Yesterday I read a Quora blog post titled, 6 Ways Where Doing Nothing Will Make You More Productive by James Altucher on The Altucher Confidential. What a great life-hack! Old memories sparked in my mind and I remembered vividly, the spectacular failure of our funded start up, Sharkius Games. From raking in $100,000 per month to dust. It turns out, doing nothing, perhaps really is one of the keys to success. We didn't do nothing enough.
The fact that we stopped "doing nothing" was a key on the downfall of our beloved startup. We were busy all the time. We were so absorbed and involved, that almost all creativity and invention came to a complete halt. Sounds familiar? Probably so, it's a hallmark of the modern human to be busy. We have our gadgets with us all of the time, we don't know how to switch off.
Have you noticed, how the best and most commercially successful games and products have proven to be small strokes of genius, rather than feature rich products? Minecraft anyone? Few exceptions come to mind, and indeed, at the birth of Sharkius Games, our success came massively from products that we released in just a week of development! A few weeks of doing nothing and only one week of work, that's all it took to generate over a million dollars in a year. Of course, to stay rich, you then have to spend the million dollars the right way*. Sharkius, lost it all through business.
Most ideas come to me when I'm doing nothing. When my mind is clear and at peace. When I have no worries or expectations. No stress and no anxiety. It is in these moments that something will click via a process in the subconscious and you get that moment of enlightenment where you go "Aha! That's it!". I'm sure that most, if not all of my good ideas have been born this way. It is during this "down time", where creativity flows.
Granted, people are all different, and perhaps it is not so for others, but having talked to many creative individuals I've come to notice a similar pattern is ingrained in most of them. I recently watched a documentary about Coldplay. Chris Martin says "all of our best songs have appeared in 3 or 4 minutes, that's always the way but they don't come about as often as you'd like them to. You just sit like a fisherman and wait... and wait, and eventually something appears really quickly, and they are always the best songs."
Chris Martin's method echoes exactly how all of my own best ideas have come about. The period of waiting like a fisherman will be different depending on your profession, but generally this involves achieving basically nothing for hours on end, or simply put, doing nothing. You don't exactly have to be doing completely nothing, but your brain must be at rest, no anxiety, no stress, no to do lists and deadlines, no upcoming meetings, no pressure (ok, maybe a little pressure?).
To do nothing. you could be relaxing at the beach or you could be hiking up a mountain. Of course, we don't all have this kind of downtime often, so more realistically you could do nothing while exercising your profession (if your to do list is empty!). For example, as a musician, you could be sat with a guitar for hours without much success. Repeating some odd chords that you know or playing old favourites. As a game designer, you could be browsing the net without much purpose, perhaps reading web comics, when the idea will hit you. You could be playing a video game that doesn't suck much of your attention away. Perhaps you could be enjoying an easy to read book when your mind will wander off.
It's true, if you do nothing, and your subconscious knows what you want**, the best ideas will eventually come. Doing nothing will really make you more creative, and more productive. Go on. Try it. It worked for me, it will work for you.
How have your best ideas come about? Let me know!
PS.- While I hate to admit it, I've even had some moments of inspiration while on the loo seat!
PPS.- This month and January I'm doing nothing (and a few small chores). I'm hoping to get back to my chess career sometime mid February.
* Books that would have helped in hindsight are: The Richest Man in Babylon & Rich Dad Poor Dad.
** Read more on how to program your subconscious to get you what you want by reading a book like "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill.
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