Jim recently shared with me a quote from Albert Einstein who once said, “Creativity is the residue of wasted time.”
What a brilliant way to put it! I have always felt that lots and lots of free time is essential. I believe it so much that we’ve made it foundational to how we homeschool and how we raise our children. I think that children need lots of time to waste and lots of space in which to waste it. So although there are times when our schedules are busy, I make sure those times are temporary and don’t last long.
I also allow the children to make creative messes in the house and barn. They build forts and castles and cut up paper and hammer pieces of wood together. One of the things that I’m super excited about with the new property is that the children will have woods and a creek to play in. That was my desire when we moved out to Indiana eight years ago, and now that desire is being fulfilled! I fully expect them to spend lots of time building tree houses and camouflage forts and dams and bridges.
Why do I do this? Because I think time to be creative is essential to learning how to solve problems. And life is full of problems. And businesses are full of problems. And relationships are full of problems. If you know how to be creative, you can figure out creative solutions to your problems – like if you need an alarm clock and don’t have one.
When I was researching the quote by Einstein, I came across a quote by Jonah Lehrer, author of the book, Imagine. He was asked in a SmartPlanet.com interview, “What surprised you the most in your research for the book Imagine? Here is his answer:
One thing was the research on moments of insight and how they benefit from states of relaxation. Before I wrote this book, I assumed that if I was stuck — if I didn’t know how to begin a sentence or end a paragraph — what I needed to do was chug caffeine and stay up late and just keep on grinding it out. But of course that’s the exact wrong thing to do. Now I’m much more willing to take a break. There’s this great line of Einstein’s that “creativity is the residue of wasted time.” In a sense, this research has taught me to make time to waste time. Sometimes it’s the most productive thing you can do. That definitely surprised me and changed the way I work every day.
So, guess which book I’ve added to my reading list? Yep – Imagine*.
What I love about this quote is that it takes what I’ve intuitively known about childhood and applies it to my life. A lot of my life is just grunt work – the every day chores that are involved with being a stay at home mom. But there is a lot of room for creative solutions when it comes to my life. Creative ways to get chores done. Creative ways to discipline. And when it comes to Goat Milk Stuff – that requires lots of creative solutions.
But you know what? I don’t really have any wasted time. I do have relaxing time. Time when I read or watch a movie or snuggle with the children. But wasted? I’m not sure I could do that. I find it very difficult to just sit. The other day I took the children to a friend’s house to swim in their pool. We just sat, watched the children swim, and talked. I admit it, I was itching to do something “productive”.
So I’m going to have to do some thinking about wasting time and what that would look like in my day. Does it mean that I can’t talk to people? Read anything? Sleep? Or does it mean that I just have to spend more time where I don’t HAVE to do anything?
I’m not exactly sure what it does look like. But I can tell you what it does not look like. It does not involve me staring at my computer, phone, or iPad. That I do know.
What about you? Do you see wasted time as valuable? or simply wasted? Do you need more of it? Or less of it in your life?