Creativity & Innovation – Stuck Thinking

by Edward Henkler on March 18, 2014

When your thinking gets “stuck”, what do you do….sleep on it, walk, workout?  For me, it’s any of the above, although driving seems to be the best magic elixir.  Just in case you don’t know what I mean…”stuck thinking” is when you’re working on a project or trying to develop a new idea and progress has halted.  You could brainstorm alternatives, engage a colleague as a sounding board, or search online but there is lots of evidence to suggest the best approach is to get away.

The Brain - from National Geographic

A recent National Geographic article explains why this happens:

Daydreaming makes you more creative.  Many times the “dialogue” that occurs when the daydreaming mind cycles through different parts of the brain accesses information that was dormant or out of reach, notes Eugenio M. Rothe, a psychiatrist at Florida International University.  Likewise, the daydreaming mind may make an association between bits of information that the person had never considered in that particular way.  “This accounts for creativity, insights of wisdom and oftentime the solutions to problems that the person had not considered,” Rothe said by email.

I do not remember the source but read a related explanation that said that experienced drivers become more cognitively creative when they are managing a task such as driving.  The task is so familiar that it can be processed efficiently and effectively in the background, freeing your mind to ponder more creative tasks.  As a footnote, these should be “hands-free” tasks and note the emphasis on experienced drivers.

One other insight comes from Matthew Goerke’s “The Memory Switch”, which advocates listening to light classical music or a similar genre when practicing memory techniques.  Apparently, it makes your mind more receptive to the training.

How do you “unstick” your thinking?

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