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The thoughts, musings, and recent blog posts on design thinking and communications, from the team at NDO*Creative.

The Importance of Noodling On The Guitar

In an age of constant content production, constant productivity, and constant social media interaction, sometimes the most productive thing you could do is step away from it all and recharge: in a recent interview with Complex and Jerry Lorenzo, musician John Mayer breaks down why you should perfectly.


JM: “You have to get off the field for a minute and watch the world go by and it’s very difficult for people who are on social media now…I’m not going to beat up social media like a piñata–it’s too easy to do–but there are people who don’t understand the feeling of going away.

[For some] it feels like dying. And there’s nobody to tell you to go away because the way your life is built now, you’re the boss, and what you get now is this continual doubling down.

Oh, that worked? Twice as much now. Oh, that thing worked? Let’s do it twice as hard.

I sat in a house for seven months learning Grateful Dead songs and that was arduous and a little scary and I put a record on hold. I was many songs in debt and many dollars in debt, but I took about 7-8 months in a cabin to learn a hundred Grateful Dead songs, and my life since then in terms of return on investment has been insanely beautiful.”

These were some of the sage words John Mayer had during an interview with Jerry Lorenzo and Joe De La Puma for Complex’s cover issue; these interviews are always great, but there was something about this passage which really resonated with us.

Step Away From The Keyboard

We live in an age of constant hustle: if it’s not your day job, then it’s your side hustle you’re hoping to have take off and become your full-time hustle. It’s the hustle involved with working all day and coming home to take care of your kids; it’s the hustle involved with trying to find time for date night with your significant other amidst the 1001 things you have to do today.

It’s the age where entrepreneurs and motivators like Gary Vaynerchuk are constantly telling you to get off your ass and DM your mentors for biz dev, to Tweet all day, and to hustle-hustle-hustle to achieve your goals.

And while Gary does encourage everyone to get the right amount of sleep and take time for family, I think many people misinterpret his message and go off the deep end, bragging about working 10-16 hours a day, running on multiple espressos and barely eating anything.

“That’s the hustle, bro! That’s the grind! No days off!

I know that mantra all too well (I mean, it’s what “NDO” stood for initially). I made the mistake of working myself into the ground and hitting severe levels of burnout: I love what I do with branding and helping companies craft their identities, but I caught myself in the trap of working too much.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or just a hard-working human being in general – you know the feeling of never-ending emails, business development, client work, and admin that awaits you, all the time. The short-term approach is the intense one, which involves the aforementioned 12-15 hour work days mentioned above. The long-term approach is this: things take time.

Growth takes time. Getting the right clients takes time. Establishing the exact value proposition(s) of your business takes time. If you read our last post on volume over intensity – you get the importance and efficacy of working/training less hours, but doing it consistently.

Taking it a step further – when is the last time you took time to be bored?

I know what you’re thinking: being bored is a luxury. Boring people are bored. I have so much shit to do – how could I have time to be bored?

Alright, let me rephrase that: when is the last time you took time to be in a blank state, screen-free, and let ideas come to you?

Cal Newport writes about the importance of deep periods of focus, free from distraction, to accomplish your work in his book Deep Work; Cal also writes about the importance of “shutting off” after the work day to allow your subconscious to work out problems and prime itself for the next day.

Not everyone has the luxury of taking months on end to go to a cabin and noodle the guitar; however, everyone should allow themselves a few minutes, maybe an hour when possible, to let your mind be at ease. Having a shutoff time is important: if you get a chance to slot in 15-30 minutes of screen-free time daily, it will seriously help your productivity and generally help you feel better as a human being.

Whatever your form of strumming the guitar is, take it – it’s crucial towards your long-term success and well-being.


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Ryan AntooaComment