Constantly racking your brain on tough problems can cause stress, anxiety, and frustration. The temptation is to press through and give it more time for the solution to present itself. If you look up one more thing, or stare at the screen for a little longer, clarity (and the answer) may come.
The good news is the answer may be close. You may have to do something counter-intuitive to find it: walk away.
There may be deadline pressure. It may feel like it’s time to double down on your approach. You’re so close to completion, you just need a few minutes. There are dozens of reasons to press on. But it’s not always the best solution.
When you allow your mind short periods to relax, you take the pressure off. Think about all the ideas you’ve come up with on the commute, in the shower, or while taking the trash out. If it feels like these fleeting moments may be when you do your best thinking, you’re not alone. A lot of creative people feel this way.
The reason is because you’re not under immediate stress. A more relaxed approach leads to more productive thinking.
A small act like stepping outside on a sunny day or taking the garbage out could be enough to pull you out of a creative rut. All you are doing is providing a quick change of scenery.
If a lack of ideas is your problem, staring at a blank computer screen may be hugely unproductive. It’s a setting that offers a constant reminder of the pressure.
It may be time to take a walk. Some of history’s greatest thinkers were walkers: Henry David Thoreau, Beethoven, and Charles Dickens. A walk gives people the chance to think without distraction. This assumes you’re not on your smart phone, or listening to music or podcasts.
The walks don’t have to be long. All it takes is a few minutes to decompress and reorganize your thinking. All it takes is 10 minutes away from your computer screen as the pressure and stress of the project seem to mount.
Some people aren’t as interested in physical activity. They might view walking as dead time that becomes unproductive. If walking isn’t for you, there may be other activities to help you organize your thoughts.
If you use the time to doodle instead, you allow your brain to decompress and organize your thoughts in a more visual manner. Meditation is another way to center yourself when stress levels become too high.
The activity doesn’t matter as much as stepping away from the computer. These small breaks may be the key to recharging and staying motivated to do your best.
This can do wonders for you, especially about an hour after lunch. Often people get a little sluggish in the early afternoon. A 20-minute nap can do wonders to recharge your batteries. For type A personalities, who are always trying to do more in less time, this may seem like a crazy idea. Taking a short nap can make you more productive for the rest of the day. You can actually get more done in less time when you are sharp and thinking clearly. Be careful not to sleep too long. 20 minutes is the perfect time to do a quick recharge.
When you push too hard, you burn out. It’s important to understand when your constant focus may be causing more harm than good. Taking short breaks may be what you need to ensure that what you’re doing is done to the best of your ability.
Find the activity that’s right for you and learn how to recharge your brain in a way that makes your work ultimately more productive.