Defragging your mind + solitude inspires resilience + brainstorming by embarrassment

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I don’t spend much time in Berkeley, California, but the wonders of the Internet have revealed to me that there's a sign outside of the Berkeley Zen Center with the marvelous tagline: “Accomplishing nothing since 1967.”

Recently, a young father was telling me that his inability to “do nothing” was a huge point of contention in his marriage. And he gave the example of listening to podcasts at 2am in the morning while rocking his baby daughter back to sleep.

Exactly what is the value of doing nothing? And why do we always seem to wait until the very last minute to recognize it? (“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” is #2 on palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware’s top five regrets of the dying.)

This week on the podcast I chat with writer & designer Craig Mod about what happens when you sit for 100 hours doing absolutely nothing, and how it super-charges your ability to focus.

We also get into why smartphones are so uniquely addicting, how social media is luring us into attention slavery, and why meditation is the key to “defragging” your mind.

If you're interested in paying better attention to the things that matter, it just might be up your alley.

Listen to “I Want My Attention Back!”

Solitude inspires resilience. I really dig this definition of solitude from Cal Newport: “Spending time isolated from other minds is what allows you to process and regulate complex emotions. It’s the only time you can refine the principles on which you can build a life of character.”

The hard thing about hard things. “People always ask me, ‘What’s the secret to being a successful CEO?’  Sadly, there is no secret, but if there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves. It’s the moments where you feel most like hiding or dying that you can make the biggest difference as a CEO.”

When plan B isn’t an option. Love this backstory on the rise of Master of None’s Lena Waithe. “For many years, she grinded as an assistant in LA, working for a fierce cadre of black woman directors... But she was also writing, producing, and directing her own work that she’d post online. She gave it her all because she had to. There was no room for a Plan B.”

For better brainstorming, tell an embarrassing story. Turns out candor (and laughter) leads to greater creativity. “The people told to embarrass themselves were initially taken off-guard and even apprehensive. But inevitably someone would jump in (‘OK, I’ll go first….’) and, within minutes, the trios were laughing uproariously.”

+ Does pretending to be a superhero help you focus?

+ Why cities are not the future.

+ It’s a 3-D printed bridge!

This week's sponsor is Hover, where you can get a domain name for whatever you’re passionate about. These days, the first step in transforming any passion project into reality is getting the right URL on lock. So start laying the groundwork for your next big idea now: Newsletter readers get 10% off their first domain purchase at

NOV 7: I'll be speaking about email overload + our distraction addiction at the Indiana Conference for Women.

NOV 28: Mark your calendar for the next Hurry Slowly LIVE event on "exquisite attention" with Jonathan Fields. Details coming soon.

Much appreciation to Marginal Revolution, Exponential View, and Bob Sutton for link ideas.

The wonderful illustrations about work/life balance that appear throughout this newsletter are from Stephen Maurice Graham.

If you've been enjoying my new podcast, please write a review of Hurry Slowly to help us get onto iTunes “new & noteworthy” section! : )

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Hi, I'm Jocelyn, the human behind this newsletter. I host the Hurry Slowly podcast — a new show about how you can be more productive, creative, and resilient by slowing down — write books that will help you reclaim your time, and give uncommonly useful talks.
Copyright © 2017 Hurry Slowly LLC, All rights reserved.

 Mailing address:
Hurry Slowly LLC
PO Box #832
Woodstock, NY 12498

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