Creativity is the name of the game. Think about your favorite brands — are they creative? Are they above average on being original? I bet they are.
From Apple’s creativity in engineering and marketing, to Hubspot’s creativity in creative (pun intended) and Coca-Cola’s creativity in advertising — all the successful brands rely heavily on creating uniqueness and being original.
In these years where creativity is a must for every company, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to sustain and optimize creativity for yourself and your teammates.
Coming from this thoughts, I’ve delved in the topic of “sustainable creativity” (as we know “sustainable” is a buzzword and should be used everywhere). Through my research I’ve identified two very very powerful methods to preserve and even enhance your creativity levels as the days go by.
Here they are:
Taking breaks is the single biggest method of enhancing creativity and boosting performance that I’ve found. Taking regular breaks has multiple very very positive effects on your mind and therefore our productivity.
Here are the top 3 reasons for you to take breaks:
Can you relate to this situation:
“You are feeling stuck almost like in a dead end street. You know that you need to finish this project and it needs to be brilliant. You know you are capable of doing it, yet the things move very slowly or don’t move at all. What’s your answer — You try harder.”
If you, like me, have experienced this situation there is a solution — You need to take a break. I know you don’t feel like it, but you do.
You need to step away from the task you are doing. Seriously, step away. Do not move your chair 3 feet away and continue stressing about it. Break the patter. Go for a walk. Watch something funny or cute. For the next 15–20 minutes do something that is absolutely in contrast with your task. You can thank me later by sharing this article with your friends.
Taking time off allows your brain to get out of the context of the current task and start thinking about relationships and connections. It allows us to recall useful information that is outside of the box. Think about watching a movie, can you really appreciate the beauty of the plot while watching it?
Chances are that after the movie, once you’ve taken a bit of a break from the movie, you start finding hidden connections that grow your appreciation for the writers and producers.
Think about evolution for a second. Our brains have evolved to be constantly processing multiple streams of information. After all, it was a matter of survival. Part of this mechanism, is constant activeness and attention to surroundings.
That is quite the opposite to being focused for a long periods of time. There is a solution though — a short break. It allows us to “reset” our focus timer and start working actively on a single task again, thereby enhancing creativity.
The good news is that many people are now looking at taking breaks as a source of creativity. I know of a several developed methods for taking systematic breaks. The most famous are :
— It’s based on the theory that you are most productive in small bursts. In Pomodoro you are supposed to work exactly 25 minutes and take 5 minute break after that. This way you keep yourself sharp, and once your sharpness start declining — you take a break.
— This one is based on the theory that our alertness comes in cycles that are similar in length to our sleep cycles . In order to take the most out of this theory make sure you are working 90 minutes straight and then taking 20 minute break
One of the best ways to let your mind rest and rejuvenate is to use your body. I strongly advise you to stand up and do something physical — take a walk or at least stretch a bit. Let your blood start flowing faster and see your focus refreshed in no time.
Another way to get the best out of your break, is to let yourself dream a bit. Yep, you should daydream. It works in a similar way as meditation does. It allows your mind to offload it’s baggage and become more relaxed.
Give your brain a new source of energy and it will reward you with new burst of focus. Just make sure you keep it light or you might end up sleepy.
What better tool to fight boredom than laughter? It gets both your blood flowing and takes your mind out of the context.
Have you heard about person being an “early bird”? How about “night owl”? It’s normally associated with your ability and willingness to get up early or get to bed late.
As some kind of a dogma, the “early birds” are glorified while being a “night owl” has become the sign of carelessness or even laziness.
And just like any stereotype it’s, at best, partially correct. There is a far better theory created by Dr. Michael Breus — a world renowned sleep doctor and specialist.
In his book “The power of When”, Dr Breus says, that there are 4 different types of people — types called chronotypes. These types are hardwired into our genes and hormones.
For every chronotype there is an optimal time to get up/go to bed in order to be most productive. Depending on the chronotype there is an optimal time to create or do mechanical work.
There is an optimal time to workout or relax. There is optimal time for everything! The best part? We naturally fallback to these times without even knowing it.
So the next time someone tries to shame you for getting up at 11 am in the morning and going to bed at 3am make sure you teach them about chronotypes.
— The lions are up very early, as they need to “kill” the goal of the day. They are full of energy right after getting up. They are what you call “go-getters”. They approach their tasks methodically and get stuff done. The lions do their best work early at the morning and their focus tends to deteriorate as the day progresses.
— The wolves are what you know as “night-owl”. They are dubbed, by Dr Breus, as the most creative people. They tend to get to bed past midnight and wake-up fairly late in the morning. The wolves tend to pick up speed as the day progresses and feel most creative and energetic around 10pm.
— The bears are very connected to the sun. They tend to get up as the sun comes up and go to bed not long after the sun has gone down. They are very communicative right from the start of the day. The bears are most productive before lunch and in the mid afternoon.
— The Dolphins are very intelligent, but tend to be having problems with sleep due to over-thinking their problems and challenges. They tend to go to bed early, but cannot fall asleep as fast as they want. They tend to be most creative in the middle of the day.
Hopefully, by now you are sold on taking breaks and doing your creative work in sync with your chronotype. After all, if you have the ability to be the best version of yourself why not do it?
This is just small part of the knowledge we are building into Swip — the Lean task management system from the future. If you want an AI assistant to help you out with the hard things — give us a try while it’s free!
Hi, I love writing! I felt important to state this first. My name is George Spasov, a startup enthusiast and Chief Marketing Officer at Swip. I’ve been part of the startup community for the last 5 years and have experienced the struggle. I love writing and sharing my knowledge on the topics of startups, lean methodologies and software development.
Follow me on Twitter @swiphq