How often have you been in the shower and had a brilliant idea? Personally, I seem to have my most creative ideas when I am cleaning house or putting on my makeup. Each of us has some rote memory task that results in mindless thinking or daydreaming, often ending up with an awesome idea. The trick is to act on that idea, or at least write it down, before it is long forgotten, buried in the day’s activities and interruptions.
Mindless activity, even just sitting for awhile staring off into space, is often the very thing we need to do to get our creative juices stirring. I have a friend whose husband is a well-known author. She once told me she often passes by his home office doorway and sees her husband just sitting staring off into space. She once thought he was wasting time til she finally asked him what he was doing. He told her he was working. As a writer, he has to do a lot of thinking, formulating and imagining.
Dan and I went to the Thomas Edison & Henry Ford Winter Estates in Ft Myers recently. The inventions and contributions to our daily comfort that came from these two inventors is astounding. Wandering the grounds of workshops and summer homes, we saw many offices where those two sat and thought about how to make things work. I expect both their wives often found their husbands staring off into space…daydreaming…trying to come up with the next step in a new invention.
The act of mind wandering is often anything but mindless; it can lead to improvements in creative thinking. More and more companies are allowing “creativity breaks” for their employees.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that Taco Bell encourages creativity in their professional development initiatives by offering perks like a company art show, a gym and a salon to boost creativity.
The ideas you have while commuting or in the shower are not coincidental. They’re a result of you taking a step back, whether you’re aware of it or not. The brain is built to detect and respond to change. Prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.
Try engaging in a simple activity that will allow your mind to wander, like walking, doodling, or cleaning, and see how it affects your ideas and thinking. You may surprise yourself! And the next time you are having trouble with a particular art project, take a break. Go sit in the sun for thirty minutes. Then come back and see if you find the answer to your frustration was right there inside your head all the time!