At the age of 30, Ludwig van Beethoven complained about his diminishing hearing: "From a distance, I do not hear the high notes of the instruments and the singers' voices." He responded by resisting his disability while he could and by playing the piano as forceful as possible to hear his notes.
By 45, he was completely deaf. He contemplated suicide as his music was taken away from him.
After turning deaf, something unexpected happened. he produced the best music of his career, his Ninth Symphony. His work was so daringly new, and it was said to reinvent classical music.
Being deaf limited the influence of other music and led to innovation. His earlier work was an imitation of his instructor Josef Haydn, and his later work was an innovation.
“Deafness freed Beethoven as a composer because he no longer had society’s soundtrack in his ears.”
What lesson can we learn from this? I'm intrigued by how ironically, being deaf allowed Beethoven to hear something new.
I don’t want to be deaf to improve my work, but I think we can do something similar by disconnecting.
Like how Beethoven produced his best work when he stopped hearing other music, we can create our best work by disconnecting from the Internet.
Many have created their best work by disconnecting
- Rowling completed the Harry Potter series while being locked up in Balmoral Hotel.
- Peter Shankman took disconnecting to an extreme and completed a manuscript on a flight to Japan.
The Internet is the biggest obstacle to productivity and the ability to create great work.
It leads you to waste a lot of time. It distracts you when you sit down to get some work done. It encourages multitasking, leading to shoddy work.
Not only that, the Internet is making us more impulsive than ever, leading us to procrastinate more. The solution to this is simple: eliminate the time-wasters by disconnecting.
Disconnecting is especially important in COVID times, where being isolated makes us more connected than ever. Most things are online these days, be it school, socialising, working.
If you want to be more successful, you should disconnect. Do it for a few hours a day. Use the time to focus, write, practice, and create. While everyone's connected all the time, being able to disconnect and focus can become your advantage.
The things that matter in life require focus. The work is demanding and unappealing. Don't rely on willpower for good behaviour when your phone rings. Nine times out of ten, you will get distracted by your phone. Instead, change your environment.
- Put your phone in another room while you work
- Turn off the WiFi
- Block some time every day where you disconnect. Signal to others that you won't be online this time
- Use website blockers to block social media if your work requires you to be offline.
Try disconnecting for thirty minutes tomorrow and observe how much you get done.