Productivity and GTD
How to Get Great Ideas
“Why is it I always get my best ideas while shaving?” ~ Albert Einstein
Have you ever spent several hours trying to solve a problem without getting it, and a couple of days later, when you had already forgotten about it, you suddenly wake up in the middle of the night with the solution in your mind? Or maybe the solution has come to you when you were relaxed taking a hot shower?
There are many people who find inspiration in the presence of water and generate great ideas when they are in the shower, walking along the beach or just listening to the sound of the sea. It is difficult to explain why so many good ideas emerge in the shower or in similar conditions, but one of the most widespread explanations is that showering or taking a bath is one of the few moments when we actually enjoy the present moment. If you think about it, you will come to the conclusion that most of the time you are either planning your future (albeit in a very short term) or revisiting past events.
It also happens that when you stop concentrating on the problem and focus on different tasks and contexts, then other areas of the brain are activated – probably the areas where the answer that you seek is located.
Contrary to common belief, the brain’s most active period is not when you are focused on a particular task, but when you relax and let it flow. That’s why Shelley Carson, a psychologist and researcher at Harvard, says that there are moments when distractions are a good thing. When you’re focusing on a problem, interruptions offer you a break that may be useful to eliminate an ineffective focus and initiate an incubation period that will help you materialize the solution or a more effective approach.
The shower offers you the perfect conditions for things to spring to your mind because it is a small, solitary, quiet and safe place, where you feel very comfortable and relaxed, but there are other activities that can help you have new and good ideas. Routine activities that allow you to seize the moment while also being distracted, such as running, cycling, fishing, gardening, etc.
Being productive doesn’t mean doing things all the time – especially when they lead you nowhere. When you start feeling overwhelmed, take a rest, relax, let your mind wander… and your productivity will thank you.
And, of course, when you have great ideas, execute them, make them happen.