That's right! Our brains are most creative when we are doing nothing - away from any devices being still and reflecting on one's life, project or simply daydreaming. It sounds ridiculous in this day and age, when we fill every spear moment with smartphones, answering emails, scrolling through social media, messaging someone...leaving little time for our mind to simply wander. It might seem not important but this little change can have a profound effect on our ability to generate new ideas.
Researchers have found that daydreaming can lead to better creative problem-solving. Famous inventors and scientists throughout history knew this and regularly practiced disconnecting and letting the mind wander. You too have noticed probably that the best ideas come in the shower or while walking.
When daydreaming the mind accesses memories, emotions and stored knowledge. This is how we enter the big picture state of mind. It helps us simulate our own version of events thas finding a new perspective and solution to the problem.
According to Nielson, Americans spend 10.5 hours a day consuming media. The study even goes as far as giving the participants a choice to sit 15 minutes with their own thoughts or a mild electric shock - most people chose the shock.
But what is the big deal you might ask? Daydreaming seems the same as looking at your phone. But there a huge difference and it has to do with the state the mind is in. It turns out the brain has two attention systems. Internal and external one.
The internal one is activated during daydreaming and it is called default network. The brain enters this state when we are thinking about ourselves, the past and the feature.
We need a healthy balance between the two states but unfortunately today we stay mostly in the external state which can have a profound effect on our brains and the ability to come up with creative ideas.
So how can we create that healthy balance and introduce some slow quiet time?
It all starts with self-awareness. And when you are tempted to reach for the phone while you are waiting for someone, just don't do it. Instead, try observing what's around you.
Leave your phone when going to meetings so you can access better and unique ideas.
Claim one day a week where you disconnect from any social media, email or media in general, including watching TV.
When you go for a walk, don't listen to podcasts or ebooks, even music. You will be surprised how the silence will eventually make you happy.
Give yourself the time and permission to daydream which in our culture of busyness is easier said than done. Companies also can benefit if they give the space to their employees to daydream and come up with new creative ideas.
Start using old-fashioned pen and paper when possible and stay away from the computer.
And don't forget to sleep - your brain needs to rest and process all those new ideas.