This Is the Secret to Creativity at Work, According to Science

Kelsey Clark

Alyssa Rosenheck for Domino Magazine, design by Elsie Larson 

Creativity is a fickle beast, one that has a tendency to disappear in the shadows just when you need it most. Scientifically speaking, you can't force yourself to be creative—on the contrary, neuroscientists Mark Beeman and John Kounios have found that your mind must be in a relaxed, diffusive state in order to produce truly groundbreaking thoughts or ideas (which explains your spontaneous shower brainstorm sessions).

That being said, there are some simple ways to draw upon your creativity at a moment's notice, mainly by toggling between your brain's "concentrated" and "diffuse" mentalities. Concentrated mode is used when we're "directly focused on a task or paying attention specifically to something," while diffuse mode is in action when we're "daydreaming, spacing out, or not thinking of anything in particular," explains author and entrepreneur Brigid Schulte on a recent Quora thread.

Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, goes on to emphasise the importance of the "diffuse" state when trying to set yourself up for creativity. Specifically, she recommends taking time to pause and reflect throughout the day, working in no longer than 90-minute increments, and taking walks or setting aside time for daydreaming between these work sessions. Although most offices are not necessarily conducive to this laid-back mind-set, you could argue that a creative job almost requires this mental down time.

What do you think of Schulte's advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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