It's the battle cry of our generation. Millions and millions of tired, bloodshot eyes transfixed to an illuminated slideshow of pixels all vying for our attention in great, big, colorful waves--and we're all basking in the glow of our displays. We've become accustomed to the concept of "agile business". Hours are more flexible. Job titles are less confined. When we're not working, we're scouring the internet for tips, techniques, and tools just to keep current.
It seems the information age hasn't come without its own set of vices: a constant, insurmountable ocean of data.
But our greatest assets to stay on top can also be an Achille's Heel that could inevitably threaten to bring us down. The idea of "unplugging" might just be a romantic sentiment for some, but it's a part of our humanity that shouldn't be ignored. "Hustle" is all fine and good in doses, but can easily create cracks in our mental glass when exposed to these practices for prolonged periods of time. Community shouldn't be substituted for various online conversations that take place in screen-in windows with x's in the top left corner.
Creative professionals have argued for the idea that creativity can't be forced, yet some of us don't even have the bandwidth for spontaneity in inspiration.
I've done the "wake up at 6am and work until 10pm" game. It's a brutal, isolated prison that substitutes efficient quality for bull-headed quantity; a battering ram of tired, pseudo-inspiration. That's not to say that you won't have times where you'll need to pull a later shift or work on something longer than you had originally projected, but prolonged, continuous practice of these conditions creates a culture of work that's entirely unhealthy and problematic. It will only result in you feeling burnt out, hurt, and resentful. What's worse, these wounds don't localize on a purely personal level: Your external relationships will be affected from the cancerous symptoms of overworking.
I've found I derive a great deal of my own personal inspiration from conversations that don't happen at my desk or in my office. Whether that's taking time to do something active or a debate with friends over a beer, life happens and ideas are a result of this social conduit. Inspiration does happen when you least expect it. Sometimes it can't be forced by intentional provocation or mentally milking it like a wet towel. Set aside time to distance mentally distance yourself from work. If that means finding friends outside of your professional field to avoid the temptations of talking shop, make it so.
Take the time to remember that life happens outside of your screen. It's happening right now in the communities you live in.
You're not a computer. Take those opportunities to power down the Macbook, connect in community, and frankly, just be human.