For many of us, success at our jobs means coming up with new ideas. But too often we spend our days in meetings or trying to keep up with email and the constant barrage of information that we can now access where ever we are.
When do we have time to think so we can be creative? Like the advertising guy who thought up the e-trade baby?
A recent article in the Wall St. Journal by Sue Shellenbarger tied creativity to research that suggests we need to take a break from what we're doing and allow our minds to wander. Studies show that tackling problems during off-peak times, viewing the color green, and even moderate drinking can boost creativity.
Here are some strategies for building mind-wandering into your daily routine:
1. Start your day with exercise, outdoors if possible. Some of my best ideas come when I'm on my morning power walk.
2. Take a long shower to get ready for work. I know this wastes water, but it is relaxing and may allow some of those ideas you thought of while you were exercising to incubate.
3. Take a break during the day to leave your desk. Do an errand, take a short walk, go get lunch; or, if you work from home, do a simple household chore -- like folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher.
4. Stand up and look out the window.
5. If you've got a particular problem to solve, "prime" your mind to think about it by listening to music, watching a funny video, or introducing other stimulus.
6. Take time to read and catch up on the day's news, tweets, updates, etc. Because you can always steal ideas from others.
And one other tip: when you get an idea, don't lose it. Use your smart phone to write or send yourself a note or email, or use a voice recorder to capture your thoughts. Use post-it notes. Create an "ideas" folder in your email application or desk files.
7. If any of these ideas don't work, you can always paint your office green and pour yourself a drink.
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