When was The Last Time you had a Great Idea?

Let it sink in for a moment.
Take your time.
Are you nearly there?
Ok — stop.

Let me guess. It wasn’t when you were checking your smartphone, scrolling through the never ending stream of social media posts. Nor was it while you were reading your digital newspaper for the 5th time that day, checking if something new had happened. Nor was it when you were checking your emails, over and over again. Nor was it when you were extremely busy, ‘GTD’, trying to multitask … (you see, this is an endless list).

Fun fact for my female readers out there: multitasking is a myth. Allow me to justify my statement with a quote of neuroscientist, Dr. Daniel Levitin:

Every time you shift your attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage a neurochemical switch that uses up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. So if you’re attempting to multitask, you know, doing four or five things at once, you’re not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, you’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.

Back to being creative and coming up with amazing ideas. Let me finish my guessing game: it was when you were bored — when you had literally nothing on your mind. This is no coincidence! It is pure science.

Dr. Sandi Mann explained during her TEDx talk to Manoush Zomorodi that once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows sort of different connections to take place. It’s really awesome, actually.

When you get bored, you ignite a network in your brain called the “default mode”.
A decade ago, we shifted our attention at work every three minutes. Now we do it every 45 seconds, and we do it all day long. The average person checks email 74 times a day, and switches tasks on their computer 566 times a day. — Manoush Zomorodi
Staring out your window — let your mind wander.

Personally, when I need to figure out something hard, I do some cross training. Or some running. Or if the weather is right, an short evening walk. Basically, what I discovered is that it is ok to sometimes be bored or give your mind the possibility to wander. By the way: if sports isn’t really your thing, staring out the window might also do the trick. Connect one idea with another. Connect what you discover with what you already know.

In essence, the formula to come up with new ideas.

Key Takeaways

Take your time to be bored — and increase your chances of coming up with great ideas
Stop scrolling through your messages and take a moment to let your mind wander
The only real thing ‘multitasking’ is, is a distraction


Manoush Zomorodi: How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas

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