Part one in this series of posts on how your brain works told us that doing a mindless activity gives the brain a chance to put old ideas into new contexts. Let’s look at why this happens.
First, everyone is creative! The left brain/right brain concept, while valid in some ways, gave rise to the idea that only a certain side of our brain held the secret to creative thinking—not true. When you concentrate, your brain is so focused on the task at hand that new ideas will rarely come to you during this time. The firing neurons are rigidly hitting specific, predictable targets. This is part of why “practice makes perfect.” New ideas happen to everyone, but not when you’re trying. Have you ever solved a problem in the shower? Showering is relaxing for most people, so your brain is then able to make new connections.
Second, relax! Both sides of your brain work together while you are relaxing; this means that giggling with colleagues, taking a walk, catching a yo-yo, and other types of easy “play” give your brain time to wander. To help prevent the loss of new ideas, keep a notebook or recording device handy. Speak the new idea into your phone’s voice recorder or jot it down on a waterproof notepad. Find out where to purchase a waterproof notepad, along with a review of other office supplies, in your WorkIT newsletter. And don’t forget to play!