Have you ever said to yourself that you need some "quiet" time to think things out? Have you desired some solitude to get your thoughts straight, to get in tune with yourself? Away from the noise and distractions of the city, into the peace and calm of some country cottage or under the solitary tree on a lonely hill? :)
I used to think of these things quite often. I felt that if i went someplace where there was a peaceful silence, i would be able to write, to ideate. Well, i went to places like that a few times, and it just didn't work! It never worked. It was like I'd suddenly let a hundred monkeys into my brain. It was alright till i was thinking everyday nonsensical thoughts, but the moment i tried to focus on something particular, a hundred different thoughts came pouring in, pushing through, clambering over each other.
Our stressful jobs and fast paced lives ensure that our minds are constantly analyzing, comparing, processing, remembering, and generally juggling stuff around. In fact studies show that a rapidly increasing number of people are having sleep disorders because their minds just refuse to shut down even for a while. Perhaps our minds are so damn used to this immense amount of activity and all this multi-tasking, that they cant handle thoughts in isolation any more.
Now that's a problem if you want to ideate or think creatively for any reason.
There are basically two kinds of noise around us. One which immediately affects you, like someone or the other coming and talking to you, your phone ringing, somebody at the door, an sms or an email. And then there's the background noise, like the murmur of traffic outside, the jabber of people talking around you, sounds of things being moved, etc etc.
The first kind is the real distraction, breaking your train of thought, directly affecting concentration and productivity. On the other hand, we have adapted and learnt to work well despite the second. We have got no choice!
My theory is, it goes deeper than that. We now need some background noise. Something for our brain to continuously chew on and process so that we can use the remaining bandwidth to focus and really get something good done. Something to keep the extra naughty mind power busy, so that we don't drift away towards more engaging thoughts...like that hot chick in office or the hot aunty next door or the hot.....well, you got the drift.
So i decided to find that ideal level of background noise. Music works for some, but for me, it either isn't enough, or then the songs get too interesting by themselves. Strangely, travel worked wonders! Buses were good, but long distance trains were the best! The constant rocking motion, the rhythmic clickety-clack of the wheels, and the fast streaming visuals outside really worked.
Now i really don't know how its gonna affect my family life if i need to jump into a train every time, but the point is, maybe the next time you need to think/create/plan, it might be a good idea to find the right noise to accompany you...
I wonder if thats the reason why so many great ideas come when you are taking a dump. Possibly a large part of our mind gets totally involved into the all-important activity of coaxing all that stuff out...that it makes eureka moments possible! Also, archimedes-style, there is again the presence of water...and immersion...hahaha!