When is the Best Time for You to Think of a Great Idea?

Do some of your best ideas come to you while you are taking a shower? 

Or when you are driving? How about when standing in line at the grocery store? 

Chances are your best ideas have come to you when you were NOT actively trying to analyze the problem. 

Our tendency to come up with creative ideas when we are not consciously working on them is not mere coincidence. In fact, it makes perfect sense from a neuroscience perspective. That’s because when your brain stops the conscious, analytical thinking of the prefrontal cortex, other parts of your brain are free to make associations. Our brains have a default mode network that is constantly working when the prefrontal cortex takes a break. The default mode network is made up of “association” areas of the brain that communicate and make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. It’s when we are not consciously thinking about a problem that our brain has the freedom to be most creative. That’s why when I am faced with a problem that doesn’t have a seemingly clear solution, I let it “percolate” for a few days.

Almost always a creative solution will present itself. 

If you want to be more creative, you need to have times when you are letting your mind be at rest. Meditation is great for allowing people to get into that creative space and have creative insights. Here’s another tip: stop checking your phone every time you have a free minute. By constantly engaging in electronics, we are significantly cutting down the time when our default mode network can kick in and get to work. 

Here are the two big take-aways: 

#1: If you are looking for your next great idea, don’t force it. 

#2:  Make sure you are giving your brain periodic breaks so your default mode network can work it’s magic!




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