How to improve creative thinking by working lazy
Your best ideas don’t usually come to you when you’re sat agonising over a problem in front of a computer screen. So to be creative you need to get out, to take a break and to work lazy.
Try to think of the time you were last stuck on a problem. Did you solve it by thinking about it all day, or did inspiration hit you when you least expected it? For many of the world's greatest thinkers, it was the latter. Newton formed the theory of gravity sitting under a tree. Archimedes worked out how to determine the volume of an object whilst in the bath. Darwin formed many of his ideas walking around his garden and Dickens found inspiration for characters whilst walking around London.
Taking a break from work and giving yourself time to relax is one of the key principles of our Lazy Manifesto. For many of us, it's during this time when we are at our most creative. So what should you be doing when you need a boost in creativity?
Take five, or even ten
If you were to imagine the perfect working environment to encourage creativity, what would it look like? Relaxation areas, table tennis, colourful comfy seating? Chances are you are not imaging plain dull walls and cubicle desks where people stare at screens all day. But for many workplaces, this is the reality. So how do we expect people to be creative when the environment seems to actively discourage it?
It’s all about taking a break. Most workplaces don’t have breakout areas or sleep pods but by allowing employees to take a break now and then, creativity can increase. Helping them to refresh their minds, to recharge their batteries, to informally chat things through with colleagues and to come back to the desk ready to go at the problem again.
Go for a stroll
Some of the world's greatest creative minds loved a good walk. Nietzsche, Orwell, Beethoven, Jobs, they all would go for a stroll when they needed to get the creative juices flowing. And it isn’t just opinion either, it’s been backed up by science.
A 2014 study from Stanford University showed that people were much more creative when they were on the move, in fact, it showed that participants were 60% more creative than when sitting around. So if you’re looking to get creative, taking a walk could be a good way to go.
Regular exercise not only helps you get fitter physically but it can also help you get fitter creatively. When you exercise more blood and oxygen is pumped to the brain, new brain cells are encouraged to grow and long term memory is improved. Again this isn’t all hearsay, it’s starting to be backed up by studies. A 2013 study conducted at Leiden University in the Netherlands found that those who exercised four times a week were able to think more creatively than those who didn’t do any.
Have you ever had an idea pop into your head in the shower? If you have, you’re not alone. A 2014 study showed that 72% of people experience new ideas in the shower and that 14% of people have a shower solely for the purpose of generating ideas. Like all the great thinkers, it’s all down to relaxation, allowing the mind to wander freely and to daydream.
Are you giving yourself time to be creative? Download The Lazy Manifesto and see how working lazy can help you be more creative when it comes to work.