Distraction Free Thinking

It’s tough to not to get distracted in today’s digital age, but if you have ADHD, like me, it’s damned near impossible. The Internet is just so limitless, and my curiosity is so endless… it’s a pretty bad combination. Even those of you without ADD or ADHD would likely agree that there is so much distraction these days that it can be tough to find a moment for nothing but your own thoughts. However, there are two places I’ve found where I do my best thinking: in the shower and on my bike.

I unapologetically take very long showers. You better hope you’re not sharing a hot water tank with me because I’m likely to shower until the water gets cold. I don’t even realize how long I’ve been in there most of the time, I just get so lost in my thoughts – it’s incredible! It is unequivocally where I do my best thinking. A friend recently asked for my advice on something and I told him I’d get back to him the next day because I wanted to dedicate a shower to mull things over. If I have a particularly vexing work problem I’m dealing with, I’ll often make a point to think it over in the shower. If I ever start my own company I plan for midday showers to not only be kosher, but encouraged!

Most of the time I don’t have a specific agenda for what I want to think about in the shower, so I just let my mind wander. Sometimes I tap into my imagination and daydream up crazy scenarios, other times I’m more practical and think about what I need to accomplish that day. What is consistent is the fact that I’m able to think without distraction for at least 15 minutes. This deep thinking helps clear any remaining grogginess in the morning and helps get my mind prepared for the day ahead.

Speaking of knocking off grogginess – I’ve found that riding my bike to work is far more effective at waking me up than coffee. It’s an incredibly invigorating feeling to have sunshine on your face, wind in your hair and the chaos of a city whirling by. I find that it really gets my creative juices flowing and is another one of the very few opportunities I have alone to my thoughts. It’s not quite on the same level as a shower, because you need to be paying attention to ensure you don’t get yourself killed, but it’s a close second. Sometimes, I’ll opt out of thinking and instead just listen to music (I know, I know, very dangerous – don’t tell my mom!) and just enjoy the ride. But even that clears my head and helps gets me more easily into a focused morning groove once I get to the office. Similarly, biking home at the end of the day has been a great way for me to unwind after a busy day.

Just as an aside, purchasing a bike has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In addition to the benefits of helping to clear my head, disconnect and de-stress that I’ve already mentioned, it allows me to avoid public transportation, which I absolutely detest. Not for the typical reasons of over crowding, delays and general unreliability… Sure those things suck, but what really bothers me is the palpable dread on the morning commute. Everyone is just so damn sullen about the fact that they’re heading off to work: you’d think they’re heading to their own funerals. That kind of negativity is infectious and makes it harder to start the day off on a good note.

One of my goals for the next few months is to make a point of finding 30 minutes a day to just relax and think without distractions. The only thing I’ll have with me is a notebook so that I can jot down any ideas that may surface. My biggest concern is that I might just end up spending that time thinking about my typical day-to-day stresses and that it won’t be all that useful, but I won’t know unless I give it a try.

Have you had success with putting aside time just for thinking – how did it go? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for my results!