Already making plans for 2016? Me too.
No matter how often I remind myself I’m on holiday the ol’ grey matter keeps circling back to tasks that lie ahead. Our lives are now so frantic and achievement focused I doubt I’m alone in finding it difficult to truly “turn off” during the holidays.
Annoying? Hell, yes. Productive? Not really.
Want to get off that mental merry-go-round and garner some insightful ideas for your year ahead? Stop thinking and hit the beach. Then do absolutely nothing.
Sound a bit too much like loafing? Paradoxically, it’s probably one of the best and most productive ways you could start your new year and here’s why:
There have been numerous studies that show the benefits of relaxation on productivity and creative insight. And while the creative “spark” is still a mysterious process, the general opinion of neuroscientists is that you’re far more likely to have a moment of insight when your brain processes are unfocused and meandering than when you’re intensely focused on a solution.
This brain “drift” (that’s how I describe it) is why so many people have great ideas in the shower or when they’re dozing, half-asleep in bed. (Arthur Fry, who thought up the Post-It note, did so while singing in his church choir; and of course there’s the famous Archimedes story about eureka moments during a bath.)
Personally I find staring out to sea or cloud watching borderline hypnotic – and this is often when I come up with my best creative solutions.
Research also shows that when we’re relaxing or daydreaming our brains don’t stop working, they keep right on problem solving – but without the restriction of singular focus on a particular problem. In other words the seemingly idle activity of lying around doing not very much gives our brain the space and time to sift through everything from memories and old ideas to imagined futures and alternative solutions.
This lovely description from a Ferris Jabr article (Scientific American) sums it up perfectly when he wrote “A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future.”
Need to get “unstuck”? Put your phone on silent, head to the beach – and let your brain wander where it pleases.