I don’t know about most people, but I have noticed more lately that I have a lot of great ideas or solutions to problems come to me while I am taking my morning shower. Up until recently I hadn’t really noticed this phenomenon. Was it the water here in Evanston? Was it the various aromas of my wife’s bath gels and lotions? I decided I needed to find out!
When I have trouble formulating solutions it becomes very frustrating to me, because I know by nature I can be a very creative person, but I can’t always call on that creativity on demand. This caused me to probe deeper on why this is the case. The more I thought about it to more I realized that there was a pattern to the times when I struggled most to come up with a quick and creative solution to a problem. I started to see the correlation that as the day progressed I would struggle more with my ability to pull on these creative juices especially after the noon hour. What I realized was that in the morning I have less “cluttering” my brain allowing my personal RAM to be free to work on other things. If you know anything about computers you know that the more programs you have running at any given time, the slower your computer performs over all. You are forcing it to do more with fewer and fewer available resources (RAM). To me, this is exactly what is going on with my brain as the day progresses.
When you first wake up your brain is clear and primed to take on new tasks. But as the day moves on you have more and more tasks, problems, worries that start to come up and if you aren’t able to take the time and address them the more each of those things stay in your brain’s RAM, slowing you down and making you less effective. I understand this may not be the case for everyone, but I have developed the habit of being able to let go of all my concerns at the end of the day and easily fall asleep. This allows my brain to “reset” at night getting me ready to go again in the morning. Where I struggle is effectively managing all the little things that come up during the day.
This has led me to look at techniques to help keep my brain’s RAM clean and organized throughout the day. Let’s face it, you can’t always solve or address each thing that comes up in real time so what do you do with this stuff? My wife turned me on to a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. It gives you practical advice and techniques for managing tasks so they don’t take up precious brain power. Especially when there is nothing you can do about them at the time. One of the things I have started doing is creating a categorized task list in MS Excel as things come up and set a due date to keep myself honest. By logging it here, I don’t feel the need to keep it in the top of my mind and can address it when I need too. This simple technique has helped me not only open up my creative bandwidth during the day but reduce my overall stress level as well, which also helps the creative energy flow unobstructed.
What are your techniques for keep the creative juices flowing while remaining productive?