Life is tough for a lot of people at the moment. Financial struggles and work insecurity are both prevalent and we can all get bogged down by the stress they put us under. Stress can cloud the mind and preoccupy us at the very time that we should be focussing even harder on our jobs and doing what we need to do.
As someone who talks to people a great deal about how to work in a more creative and productive way, I wanted to share with you two bits of insight I have on this.
Getting out of our usual work environment is one of the best ways to come up with fresh ideas and reenergise ourselves. We undertook some research which confirmed this. We asked various business people where they had their best ideas and meetings came out as one of the least likely places for a breakthrough -- yet folk spend so much of their time in them. Seems nuts to me.
Likewise people are often expected to be creative sitting at their desks but our research indicates that this environment does not encourage the correct state of mind for ideas generation. Coming up with an awesome idea tends to require our minds to be in an alpha state, that is, one of light relaxation where we are able to freely associate, access our subconscious and link various thoughts in unique ways. Contrastingly the rational, logical state in which we exist when we are in the office or at our desks can be too rigid for the creative spark to make its mark. In fact only 6 percent of those we surveyed said they had their best ideas in meetings (usually when day dreaming or not actually paying attention at all) whereas 30 percent said they had them when they were walking and a whopping 44 percent said that they had their best ideas in bed! Duvet days may have a case for improving ROI afterall.
Other insight comes from an exercise that is designed to help you free your mind by spending time away from your desk. It's a free training day delivered by a movement called Street Wisdom and is a collaboration between David Pearl and ourselves.
The idea, a simple one but with profound impact, is that if we are in the right state then all the answers that we need come to us. This is based on the premise that everyday life is sending us rich signals, guidance and tuition which we largely overlook or ignore.
Street Wisdom allows participants to tune into and learn from this latent wisdom with absolutely minimal preparation and cost. Most often the busy urban street is purely the place by which we get from A to B. We scurry along them, head down without taking the time to soak up the richness on offer. Street Wisdom uses the street as one of the richest sources of stimulus that we can ever tap. People who take part on one of the excursions find that they have the most amazing breakthroughs in the most unusual ways. It may be that their brain makes sense of random stimulus but then offers it in such a way that the solution to the question was obvious. It may be that people realise they are asking the wrong question and as the Street provoked them, the new question is seemingly easy to answer.
If you are in the right state then the stimulus around you is all you need to answer question. I know that we could all do with a little more help in breaking bad habits formed over time. Doing things differently will make you feel fresher and therefore work in a more productive way.
So take a deep breath, let your mind wander and relax. When you stop thinking about the problem, more often than not the solution presents itself. You just need to be sensitive and chilled and recognise it is there.