5 for 5 blog – Take a hike! (No seriously, start walking!)

20 Apr

Photo Oct 18, 12 55 01 PM


Good morning everyone.

As a child, I hated going on walks. And while you should never hate anything, I loathed going on walks as a kid (BORING!!!). Mom and dad would round up myself and my three sisters and we would set off around the neighborhood, typically during the summer time. At the time, could never appreciate the time spent with the family…although having kids of my own now, the idea of fresh air and a chance for them to burn some unneeded energy is wonderful parenting strategy.

It is only now, as I am getting older, that I have finally learned to value the time of putting one foot in front of the other and getting out and about in my neighborhood (often with my dog in tow, which is as good for him as it is for me), or in downtown Chicago, or even around my work place.

On Saturday, I finished reading a very interesting book on the lives and habits of some of the most creative minds in history, “Daily Rituals” written by Mason Currey. There are so many great themes to take away from this book, but the one that stuck out was the idea that nearly all of the creative personalities enjoyed and even sought after time to walk. Here are just a couple of examples:

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven rose at dawn and wasted little time getting down to work. His breakfast was coffee, which he prepared himself with great care – be determined there should be sixty beans per cup, and he often counted them out one by one for a precise dose. Then he sat at his desk and worked until 2:00 or 3:00, taking the occasional break to walk outdoors, which aided his creativity.

Richard Strauss

“My day’s work is very simple; I get up at 8 o’clock, have a bath and breakfast; 3 eggs, tea, “Eingemachtes [homemade jam]; then I go for a stroll for a half an hour by the Nile in the palm grove of the hotel… From 3 till 4 I work on; at 4 o’clock tea, and after that I go for a walk until 6 when I do my duty in admiring the usual sunset.”

So why would so many of the brightest minds specifically make time for walking? Although the book isn’t prescriptive, as with Beethoven, getting away from the work and going on a walk was a way to allow for idea incubation. Many of the writers and composers talked about working in set time frames broken up by walks. Some walks were noted as particularly long, others spread out and shorter. Regardless, it was a way for each person to walk away and allow the ideas to continue to form in the back of their minds.

And while many of us are not Beethoven or Einstein or Fitzgerald, we are required to bring new ideas to work each day. And because of the old factory line mindset in many work places we sit there and think that the way to solutions or breakthroughs is to stay at our desk and push through. However, often as we hit a wall we allow our minds to go walking by reading an email or checking up on a new movie release.

If we know that getting up and going on a walk could be a great tool for us, how do we get started with building this habit in our own daily ritual:

  • Schedule it – I know this sounds crazy, but just like the idea if you write something down you are more likely to do it…the same applies here. Book 15-20 minutes and schedule time to walk. If you are worried about your boss, checking your calendar, get creative of code names.
  • Have walking meetings – I have read a bunch of other bloggers commenting on how they are turning to walking meetings as a away from thirty to sixty minute seated meetings.
  • Map it out – May be you find the further drinking fountain or vending machine from where you are sitting or maybe you r are fortunate enough to work in a larger building, regardless…..find a path to take once you have dropped it in your schedule
  • Bring a note book – If you finally get away, bring something to capture your ideas. The worst thing that could happen is that you finally start building the routine, ideas starting flowing, and you have no way to capture them….bring a small note book and a pen. I suggest going analog only because if you are using your phone you may be tempted to stay locked on the screen which is exactly what you don’t want.
  • Home based workers, you need to do this too – If you work from home, you especially have no excuses since there is no one watching over your shoulders. Cruise around the block, walk to get a coffee, but don’t miss the great opportunity you have been given.

Good luck to you as you begin building this new habit. If you do get started or you already have a routine, let me know in the comments over the next few weeks.

Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:

10 Techniques From Professional Artists For Breaking Through Creative Blocks – by Jane Porter – via fast Company


SO WHAT: AS per the topic of the blog this week, please take note of #1

Tags: Creativity, Productivity


Nurture Creativity with Silence – by Allison Stadd – via 99u


SO WHAT: Another theme from “Daily Rituals” was that nearly all of the creatives featured in the book demanded seclusion. In the same way seeking silence allows a mental separation and focus away from the chaos of the rest of the world.

Tags: Creativity


Why Brainstorming Works Better Online – by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic – via Harvard Business Review


SO WHAT: This blows away the traditional notion of sticking everyone in a conference room for three days.

Tags: Brainstorming, Creativity


Be a Belief Magnet – by John Maxwell – via JohnMaxwell.com


SO WHAT: Increasing people’s belief in themselves is one of the highest priorities of leadership and one of the greatest honors.

Tags: Leadership


4 Tips For Slowing Down, From Daniel Handler And Maira Kalman – by Carey Dunne – via Fast Company


SO WHAT: Here it is again…..take a walk.

Tags: Creativity, Productivity


All the best, kevin