There is an addiction to being busy, to accounting for every minute of our time. Corporate environments don’t help, where time at the desk certainly used to be the measure of effort and achievement.
For anyone working in an industry where timesheets were the norm, then this would all be amplified. When your time is billed then not filling that time is time not spent earning for the business.
Or is it?
You can’t be creative in twenty minute blocks
I’ve long argued this one. When you expect people to come up with innovative ideas then you have to give them time to just noodle around.
To think of other things.
It’s unlikely that their best idea is going to come during a one hour team brainstorm booked in between a budget review and a four hour project meeting.
Personally, my best ideas are most likely to be when I’m:
- On a walk
- In the shower
Which makes for some wet, garbled, food splattered note-taking! But some great thinking time.
Sometimes it’s the not thinking
I had a project recently that I struggled with. The first round of ideas wasn’t what the client wanted, but at least helped them to better articulate what they did want.
And I was stuck on where to go. I spent ages scribbling and crumpling up bits of paper. I berated myself. I ran the scenario of having to tell them I just wasn’t up to it.
Then I stopped thinking about it.
For several days.
Then wrote three themes that I really felt happy with. And one that the client likes. A lot.
A necessary luxury
I get it.
We don’t always have the luxury of time.
But carving out a pause can pay dividends that mean we make back the “wasted” time. Even if it’s only a walk round the block, sometimes it’s enough to give us a new perspective and our brains a break.
Science says it works
You might think it’s all a bit woo woo, an excuse from a copywriter for writer’s block and poor ideas. There is a whole load of science behind this though, and it comes down to two D’s and an R.
The first is dopamine, which increases when we’re feeling happy and relaxed. The second is distraction. Our subconscious minds are working on our “problem” without us knowing it. When you’re distracted with other things and letting your mind just wander, there’s a better chance for those ideas to bubble up to the surface.
You’re also more relaxed in these scenarios (so my driving one probably doesn’t work in a traffic jam or when I need to get somewhere on time). A relaxed brain is more open to making diverse connections, and that diversity can lead us to new ideas and thoughts.
Think of it as a mini holiday for your brain
As it’s August, many of you might be taking a break, which is like the souped-up version of all of this. Don’t be surprised if you get ideas in the middle of the beach.
Carving out some non-thinking time is in effect a mini-holiday for your brain, just without the packing challenges and traffic jams. It’s just about prioritising some non-thinking thinking time.
Will you give yourself that kind of mini-holiday? I know I’m going to keep doing it. But if anyone knows of a good waterproof notebook, I need one!