Jan 31, 2019 | by Cindy Sullivan
My mother always said that the best gift for a child is a plain old large cardboard box.
Now, with children of my own, I know what she means. They often seem most excited about the potential a box offers rather than the specific type of play often directed by the toy inside. A plain box is a blank slate to a child. The mind begins its creative process to “imagine the possibilities”!
Today, I reflect on this idea as I think about our use of Time. With so many options to fill our time with activity – both worthwhile as well as wasteful – do we ever give ourselves a “blank slate” so that the mind can be creative? Are we filling every moment with sound, activity, TV, computer games, checking Facebook? I find that the busier I get, the more habitual these behaviors come. It’s as if we need to fill every free moment with one of the thousands of options available to us.
A while back, I decided to make an experiment of consciously NOT filling every moment – but to offer up some of my time to just “Be”. I’m not talking about greatly altering my schedule to build in big blocks of “nothing”. I simply chose to eliminate those activities that filled in every gap between activities. If I was driving, I chose silence over the radio. If I was waiting for the computer to power on, I didn’t play a game on my phone. If I had 5 minutes until a scheduled phone call, I didn’t look for a “time waster” to occupy my mind.
My experience during that time was eye-opening. I became aware of how often I was searching for something to occupy my attention (even if for only 1 minute!). It was a restless, uneasy, and awkward. I even felt a bit of panic. Then, as I settled into my routine (and my son became resigned to the fact that we wouldn’t be playing the radio the minute we jumped in the car) I missed these activities less and less. And – bonus – I found that my mind became “open to the possibilities”! My brain – not tied down to technology and other “input” constantly – began to create! My time and my thoughts became a plain old box. I had room to explore ideas and think about opportunities. I was looking past immediate gratification and new thoughts materialized. My creativity had been masked by all the noise and distractions but clearing those away led me down new paths.
Do you find yourself struggling to get into a creative zone? Consider how much space you’re allowing yourself. Could you benefit from some time spent with your own plain old cardboard box?
Cindy B Sullivan provides coaching, consulting, and training in the areas of Productivity and Time Management. Contact Cindy for a complimentary consultation to see how she can help you "Organize the Time of Your Life!"