It’s late at night, yet you’re still at your office or in front of your computer, attempting to come up with a creative solution. You can’t concentrate, there are too many distractions which forces you to lose your focus, you become frustrated.
You’re still struggling away at that project that was due yesterday, that creative masterpiece that you need to produce isn’t getting done. Your mind is completely blank and at a standstill. You haven’t come up with anything new or substantial, then panic begins to set in as you continue to spin your wheels.
And for reasons unknown, it also becomes difficult if not impossible to walk away from the task at hand. You think that the solution, the answers are just at the tip of your mind, it seems so close.
If your work involves you to think creatively, it can become a work hazard, which comes with the territory. Know that you’re bound to encounter these mental roadblocks when your mind feels stuck.
The most difficult can be starting a new project from scratch, responding to an email, or attempting to properly structure an upcoming presentation that you need to deliver.
You’re trying to be creative, productive, yet what happens is that the problem just gets lodged, it goes into spin cycle, and you can’t disengage yourself. You find that you’re running into these same barriers time and time again.
Once this happens, the most common reaction is to multiply your efforts, work harder, while panic sets in. What you think is that it’s persistence that’s needed, that what any successful outcome needs is harder work and sweat equity.
The Burden That Is Creativity
But when it comes to creative breakthroughs, what research shows is something completely different. While working harder does have its merits, when it comes to producing creative solutions, it’s found that this dogged persistence can actually become counterproductive.
It’s found that whenever you’re looking for a solution to a problem, the more time and effort that you spend deliberating, the more that your focus begins to narrow.
It becomes a familiar protocol, that once a problem is first encountered, there are certain solutions which will immediately come to the forefront, which may not feel right. Then you attempt to reexamine the issue, giving it new perspective, then another.
Then before you know it, you become counterproductive. What happens is you begin to lose sight of the bigger picture, while becoming fixated on the smaller details. The harder that you try, you come up with fewer ideas, while diminishing returns occur.
At this point, you need to give yourself a break when you’re at an impasse, as giving it time and distance becomes advantageous. Once you direct your attention away from the problem temporarily, what you’re allowing is your focus to wander.
Then the answers suddenly begins to appear, bridging those creative insights when you least expect it.
We all know that the occasional long weekend or an extended vacation away can yield a rejuvenated more focused perspective, but those options usually aren’t available when you’re facing an imposing deadline.
Take Breaks Or Switch Tasks
If you’re wanting to make progress, then allow distractions to divert you, allow yourself to lose your focus on occasion, and think of other things. Once you feel yourself getting mentally stuck, a well deserved break can reactivate creativity.
Once you let go of a problem that you’re needing to solve, then your perspective suddenly expands. That’s why you’ll discover solutions in oddest places or times, such as during exercising, in the shower, watching a movie, etc.
Redirecting your attention activates incubation, your unconscious thinking. Following a brief distraction, generating more creative solutions to your problems will occur quicker than when you were focusing on it intently.
The key is knowing when you’re feeling stuck and needing to take a break. For the majority of the time, it’s when you’re feeling discouraged that you can benefit from walking away.
Creative Thinking Involves Multiple Sessions Over Time
It’s found that the most productive way of resolving any type of difficult problem, resolving a creative issue, is to alternate thinking intently on it, this by strategically shifting your thinking and attention elsewhere.
Instead of setting aside a block of time to work on or to solve a creative project, instead, schedule shorter sessions which are more frequent. By planning these periods of deep thinking, you’re then guaranteed to get your mind off the task, which then ensures that your focus expands.
Allow The Mind To Wander
Any creative solution will rarely emerge when you need them to, such as when you’re in the office, or sitting behind your computer expecting the answers to be solved.
This is the reason why it becomes helpful to write down an ongoing list of things, projects, or issues that you need to solve. Then make sure you revisit them whenever you have time.
Occasionally glance at the list whenever you have the opportunity, then allow your mind to become free and let it wander, this by doing other tasks such as shopping or jogging.
Or you could be going out for lunch or driving to a meeting, and then bang, the solution will come to you. What doing something else does, is it leads to fresh new solutions suddenly popping into your head.
Ultimately, the key when it comes to harnessing this power, which is known as psychological distance, is by taking a break, this since the solutions always won’t appear when you want them to.
When you’re pressing your brain for answers, by working harder, what you get is flustered. What’s preferred is that you allow them to sneak up on you when you’re least expecting it, so make sure that you have a pen and paper on hand.