Solitude and Work

Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.

Pablo Picasso

Great ambitions require serious work. Only when we give our complete attention to a task can we produce something worth our time. Unfortunately, distractions keep us from giving our full attention to anything. We all know how easy it is to lose ourselves in the distractions of technology. When we are faced with a challenge in our jobs, the instant gratification of social media and online shopping is a tempting drug that seems too strong to resist. This has become the new normal. The problem of distractions has plagued creative minds long before smartphones were invented, and Picasso offers us some advice.

Solitude is an underutilized tool that has so many benefits. It prevents mental burnout; it allows your mind to rest; it creates an environment where you can give your full attention to a task; it enhances creativity; it allows you to listen to yourself instead of all the noise around you; it puts everything else into perspective. When you think of solitude, it’s easy to think of Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, alone in the woods with his civil disobedience. This is an extreme version of solitude that isn’t practical for most people. Fortunately, there are ways of achieving solitude in the midst of busy lives.

 Set aside a specific amount of time each day where you step away from electronics and external stimuli. This could be meditation or prayer; it could be going for a run or for a walk; it could be enjoying a hot bath. Even 30 minutes of such solitude each day will give you a lasting sense of calm. Moreover, you will get to know your thoughts better. This is where your creative thoughts are born, and this is where you will hear them. Through this solitude, you will prepare yourself for your work ahead.

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