July is a month of middles. It comes in the middle of the year and straddles the middle of the summer. It's also one of two months of the year (December being the other) during which it’s pretty much guaranteed that when I try to reach someone for an interview, we’ll probably have to schedule around a vacation.
Despite the inconvenience, I want my interviewees – and everyone else – to take their vacations. While hard work and deliberate practice
are integral parts of being creative, it’s also necessary to step away from one’s creative pursuits in order to receive breakthrough insights that can move projects forward.
Why is this so? Daniel Goleman, writing in Psychology Today
, notes that studies show that “aha” moments show up as bursts of gamma activity in the brain, where neurons bind together as far-flung brain cells connect in a new neural network. It may well be that our brain NEEDS “down time” for this burst of insight to happen, both on a physical and mental level.
So by all means, if you can take a vacation before the summer’s over, please do – you’ll be doing your creativity a favor. Here are a few tips for making the most of your time off.
Travel with friends and loved ones.
A 2009 study
showed that thoughts of love primed participants for greater creativity.
Take time to do “crazy” things. Read an absurdist novel. Play with a toddler. Both activities make your mind work overtime to make meaning from another point of view, which facilitates creativity.
Multitasking drains your attention and memory. Being tethered to electronic devices deprives us of that all-important down time in the brain. So put your electronic devices in the drawer for a couple of days. If you need help with this, take a listen to my audio mediation on unplugging
, which can help you imagine a day free of distraction!