For some people, it’s in the shower, or during the commute, or while they’re dreaming. I’ve always had mental breakthroughs when I’m out for a walk with the dog.
I’ve written countless HOW Magazine “Editor’s Note” essays while I’m pounding the pavement, first behind our dear Wrigley and now sweet Peroni.
I’ve revised and revised my HOW Design Conference comments. I chewed over my rationale from making the leap from employed to self-employed. I scripted the words I’d use to tell my boss and my team of my decision to leave HOW and launch a second career. That evening stroll around the neighborhood is when I find the cranial real-estate to tackle a problem or think through a worry.
There are commonalities among these different places or times when we’re able to find breakthroughs—the shower, the commute, the walk. First, we’re away from our desks. Which means we’re away from the blank computer screen that signifies the project at hand. There’s no pressure to create immediately.
Second, our minds are on something else. The problem we need to solve is lodged in there, but it’s not right on top of the mental pile. As we circle back to it when our brains are more at ease, that’s when we tend to find solutions.
Walking (or running, swimming, cycling, whatever your activity of choice) adds a physical element to the mix. Your body’s occupied and your brain is occupied—on your breathing, or on watching the puppy follow her nose on a snaky trail through the brush—and you’re able to think more clearly. The trick, as Todd Henry of AccidentalCreative.com would tell you, is having the discipline to make time for the activities that prompt new ideas, and then recording those ideas as soon as you can.
So what about you? What will you do today or this week to free your mind so it can work better?