To refresh brain and boost ideas, keep pressing your pause button

February 5, 2019 - 2:21 pm

Creativity can’t stand a struggle. So give your brain a break.

In writings and talks, I frequently emphasize the value of taking breaks. In fact, pausing (which I label “Exhale,”) is dead center in my five-step creative process:  Explore – Experiment – Exhale – Examine – Express

Pausing gives space to your subconscious — a primary source of aha! moments (that’s why ideas often pop up while in the shower or on walks).

In his new book When, Daniel Pink explores how breaks boost mood and performance. He cites research of Anders Ericsson, a psychologist who found elite performers have a common trait: They’re all good at taking breaks.

Pink suggests various types of restorative breaks. Most are familiar, but these caught my eye:

The 20-20-20 plan. Before starting a task, set your cell phone timer. Then, every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This rests eyes, improves posture and opens idea channels.

Move body to reset mind. Stand for 60 seconds. Shake  arms and legs. Flex muscles. Rotate core. Sit back down.

Office yoga. Do simple yoga poses and stretches at your desk. Google “office yoga” for lots of simple suggestions.

Hydrate. Get a smaller water bottle than the one you have. When it runs out, walk to refill it. It’s a threefer: hydration, motion, restoration.

Pretend you’re outside. Taking walks outside is best, of course, but when you can’t do that, gaze at indoor plants,  photos of nature or trees outside your window. Research suggests this helps.

Have a plan to pause, and you’ll clear paths for big ideas.

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