Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Speed Versus Reflection

It’s been a while since I’ve heard someone use the term internet time. Even though it’s a hackneyed phrase whose vogue has passed, it can be an apt metaphor for the world we’re living in. Or, at least, the world many of us seem to think we’re living in.

A world where we’re expected to be constantly on and constantly available. Where information is coming at us at all hours of the day and night. Where we see, read, and are forced to react almost instantly.

But something that we don’t seem to be doing enough of is reflecting on what we’re taking in. And, consequently, on what we’re writing. Without that reflection, we might be producing work that’s timely but in the end it can lack the depth of thought that a subject or an idea might need.

Reflection is Essential

I’ve been told that taking time to reflect is a sign of reflection indecision or stodginess. An inability to react or keep up with the information we’re being bombarded with. A lack of ability to think on one’s feet.

It isn’t.

To me, reflection is about focus. Focusing your attention and concentration on a topic or an idea. But it’s not the kind focus that many people apply to problems — where someone is heads down, making a concerted effort to try to solve a problem by pouring a good deal of mental and physical energy into it.

Instead, the focus that’s involved with reflection is a lot softer and more subtle. It’s about keeping your mind engaged, but open. Let your mind wander, but instead of wandering here, there, and everywhere let it wander over the problem at hand.

Reflection Takes Time

Obviously, you won’t gain any great insight or solution immediately. But you shouldn’t expect to. What you’re striving for is depth. You want to bring threads together. You want to bring your knowledge to bear on a problem. You want to come up with the right questions and see angles that aren’t immediately visible.

And that does take a little time. But in the end, taking the time to reflect can be worthwhile. It can make your thoughts and opinions (and jus about everything else about you) stronger and deeper.

These days, that alone will set you apart from much of the crowd.

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