We’ve tried nearly all of the productivity hacks and productivity apps out there, but still find ourselves whiling away precious time staring out into space, daydreaming or mindlessly doodling. We should feel guilty taking a mental break instead of concentrating on completing an important task, right? Not necessarily. Several studies have shown that taking breaks from taxing concentration actually increases productivity and helps us harness that ever-elusive state of creativity.
In these hyper-focused and competitive times, creativity is more and more prized. Sure, you can get all of your work done, but your innovative ideas and solutions are what will ultimately set you apart and guarantee your career success. Scroll on for a few activities that’ll get those creative juices flowing.
Find Some Quiet Time to Reenergize
It’s not a coincidence that it seems like your best ideas suddenly come to you out of the blue once you’re not focused on solving the problem. Although letting your mind drift may seem like you’re powering down your brain, a 2012 study suggests daydreaming actually requires your brain to be highly engaged. This brain state helps you connect the dots between different information in order to come up with innovative solutions. Here are two ways to get the most out of quiet mental breaks.
1. Switch to an activity that’s easy on the mind. In order to effectively “unfocus” and gain insights that would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed, it’s important to diversify your activities. Insert 15-minute breaks into your schedule about every 90 minutes, in order to disengage from a mentally daunting task in favor of a less-stressful activity, like going for a walk or folding the laundry. Switching to a different task is enough to broaden attention and come up with connections between ideas.
2. Do (almost) nothing. Another peaceful option, if you aren’t in the mood for meditation, is just sitting calmly in silence. Silence, despite being void of obvious stimuli, has been found to rest our minds and can even lead to development of new brain cells since we have the time to marinate on past experiences.
Play to Boost Your Imagination
Playtime is another unlimited source of diversified activities that adults tend to forget about. Responsibilities, dire world news and daily to-do lists tend to dominate our lives, leaving little time for some old-fashioned creative play. But it’s worth setting aside time to focus on having fun and using your imagination, because it has an enormous impact on creativity. It helps your mind expand and stimulates positive emotions, which research shows can lead to tremendous insight.
Feeling a little rusty when it comes to playtime? Here are two things to do that’ll help you explore your fun-loving side.
1. Tap into your history of play. What kinds of things did you love to do as a child? Whether it be playing with legos, dominating video games or drawing pictures of the family dog, go back to basics or update your fave childhood activities a bit with new supplies.
2. Enjoy the little ones in your life. Watching kids play is inspiring. Next time you’re around your kids or your friends’ kids, get in there and join them! They’ll get your imagination going in no time.
Continually tapping into your inner creativity can help you reconnect with a sense of pure, unadulterated joy that may have fallen by the wayside. This positive feedback loop will keep replenishing you with more happiness and more creativity, enriching your adult life in a way crossing off that to-do list cannot.
Are you a major daydreamer? Ready to add playtime to your schedule? Tweet us at @BritandCo and let us know!
(Photos by Getty)