(This article was written in October, during the solo portion of my trip. I lived in the Utah desert for 28 days, with no backpack, tent, sleeping bag, or technology)
“But nothing will help quite so much as just keeping quiet, talking with other people as little as possible, with yourself as much as possible.” – Letters From A Stoic, CV
I haven’t seen another human being in five days.
As I write this letter, I’m sitting on a creekside in Escalante Natio9nal Monument in Southern Utah. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and insects are buzzing all around me.
I’ve never been more productive in my life.
It’s not everyday that we get a chance to break away. There are distractions at every twist and turn, from family to friends to Facebook. Your cellphone is always buzzing, your notification window is always chiming, there is always something that wants your attention.
Is this who you really are? Or who you want to be? A lab rat who voraciously clicks on every incoming message, who ferociously reads every new email as soon as it arrives, regardless of whether it is important or not.
I’ve spent years trying to break out of unproductive habits online. I’ve installed RescueTime, Pomodoro timers, auto responders on my emails: you name it, I’ve done it.
Yet nothing manages to keep me away from distractions. Even going to a cafe with just a notebook ends up with a wasted day of checking my phone or talking with random cafe patrons.
Right now, five days into my solo experience in the Utah desert, I’m far, far, far more productive than I’ve ever been. I’ve written 2500 words a day, all while living in a cave and fashioning fire with two sticks.
It takes extreme measures to break extreme bad habits.
Ask yourself—when was the last time you were really alone in solitude? When was the last time you found yourself alone in nature, with no cell phone and no computer, for more than a couple days?
I now know how much life, nature, beauty, and productivity I’ve been missing by living glued to a screen.
Just stop. Here is my advice to you: plan a 3 day, 2 night trip. If you’ve got it in you, go camping alone, with no cell phone and no computer. If that’s not your style, book a hotel and go there. Resist the urge to call others. Stay alone, stay in solitude.
Try spending time alone, really really alone, for the first time in your life. You might be surprised what you find.
“Let us act on this, then, wholeheartedly. Let us cut out all distractions and work away at this alone for fear that otherwise we may be left behind and only eventually realize one day the swiftness of the passage of this fleeting phenomenon, time, which we are powerless to hold back.” -Letters From A Stoic, CVIII