There was a time when I was a ‘weekend commuter’. The 3 hours journey home on a Friday evening followed a predictable course both geographically and mentally…
The first hour somehow ‘unburdening’, going over in my head the issues of the week. Then in the second hour, I would somehow more reflect as if looking on issues from a distance; quite often this was a creative period and I took to carrying a notebook so as not to lose the fresh ideas for the following week. For the third hour, I just wanted to get home!
State of mind clearly has a significant impact on the ability to think creatively, and in the second hour of my travels I was sufficiently relaxed to let my mind re-assemble some of the otherwise random thoughts and generate useful ideas. For some, that ‘Eureka’ moment might come while in the bath, or at least in some other conducive environment away from directly facing the issue in hand.
Most of us, I’m sure, have at some point been needing to finish an e-mail or presentation under pressure of time and know how difficult it is to do a good job. Conversely, how often have you been wrestling with a problem – even a crossword puzzle – left it for a while to do something else, and returning later with your mind refreshed, you are able to make progress that before seemed impossible?
Of course innovation specialists recognise the benefit of giving participants relaxation periods in otherwise intense creative sessions. There are a range of techniques for ‘chilling out’, meditative approaches and even types of brain wave (Delta, Theta, Alpha and Beta). Some may even go as far as Dream Diaries, assuming that the best ideas might come to you while actually sleeping!
I think, nowadays, with the absence of my 3 hours commute and not really being able to recall my dreams (even if they were to be relevant) I shall justify a stroll in the fresh air at lunchtimes as a mind-clearing technique. I think it’s a worthwhile question, given the economic climate, increasing pace of work, communications and life in general, to ask if we could all benefit from more ‘thinking time’?