Monday, March 09, 2015

I Do My Best Thinking in a Tube

I had an MRI the other day. Not sure how the results will turn out, but it was probably the best 30 minutes of thinking I got done last week. With multiple deadline shifts, rescheduled appointments galore and several late season snow/ice storms wreaking havoc here in the Northeast, the "tube" was a welcome respite from the daily grind.

Some people get freaked out in the claustrophobic confines of an MRI machine, but I find it relaxing. There’s something about the rhythmic humming and clanging in the background, with ear plugs and decent music in the headphones that helps me relax and block out all the “real noise” in life. You can’t move. You can’t talk. You can’t even cough, sneeze or scratch your nose. But most importantly, the MRI tube is a very tight space. You wouldn’t be able to reach for your smartphone or tablet if you got bored and somehow managed to smuggle it into the exam room under your gown.

So, you lie there and think…and think some more.

I’ve never had the patience for meditation, deep breathing or yoga (it's like a 90-minute warm-up for a game that never happens). But, the MRI tube literally forces you to block out the world and all the distractions of email, cell phones, meeting reminders, unexpected calls from your spouse or kids and impromptu “pop ins” from a work colleague who’s bored.

Here’s a passage from the
Focus Manifesto blog written by Leo Babauta, author of the book Focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction--“Never have the distractions been so voluminous, so overwhelming, so intense, so persistent as they are now. Ringing phones are one thing, but email notifications, Twitter and Facebook messages, an array of browser tabs open, and mobile devices that are always on and always beeping are quite another. More and more, we are connected, we are up to our necks in the stream of information, we are in the crossfire of the battle for our attention.”

What to do? Kevin Daum had some good suggestions in a recent Inc. Magazine piece: How to Clear Your Head in 15 Minutes.


We’re not suggesting that you schedule unnecessary medical tests just to clear your head. But, think about all the ways in which you’re distracted during the day—and how much more you could get done (in less time) if you could really find a way to focus.

Try this exercise for a month. Once a week, find a time and a place where you can really think and focus uninterrupted for 20-30 minutes…..Do it at the same time or place every week.

I know several of you have had success with this technique in the swimming pool, the steam room or the sauna. After a month, review your progress and see how many mental blocks you’ve been able to bust through. You might be surprised. We’d love to hear from you about how you did.

Let’s have a great week.
Best, HB


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