If you’re a creative, you should hate your smartphone. It’s a parasite that is sucking the creativity out of you like an insatiable zombie leech. Every day it makes you worse at your job, yet every night you dutifully bring it back to life. You keep it constantly by your side, even as it robs you of what could bring you a Pencil or a Lion or a promotion in the most insidious way imaginable: by keeping you constantly entertained.
Long before Steve Jobs attached these metal and glass appendages to all of our bodies, David Ogilvy had a method for producing impactful creative—what he called “big ideas.” He suggested “going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret … if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.”
Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire, Penn State University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have all concluded basically the same thing: that it’s not until we’re bored that we tap into our subconscious, and begin to make unusual or unexpected connections. And it’s these left-field inspirations that all these incredibly seductive devices are destroying.
Think about an art and copy team trying to crack a brief in 1967—or even 1997. What’s in the room with them? No Wi-Fi. No laptops. No smartphones, tablets or wearables. Just the two of them, the walls, a bunch of blank pages—and their wandering minds. For hours. Makes you anxious just picturing that, doesn’t it?
So take a long walk. Stare out the window. And if you’re not a fan of claret, as David was, enjoy an IPA or two. But by all means, turn off that zombie leech and let your mind roam in the clouds. That’s where the good stuff is.