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Creativity tip: take your time

>> 12 December 2010

Many studies show that creativity is reduced when people's attention is more on the result and its consequences than on the question itself.

Putting people under pressure to deliver pushes them back into overdependence on familiar lines of thought.

So basically: having good ideas takes time.

Do you know the 'Bed, Bath and Bus' theory of creativity?

It basically comes down to the fact that for many people, the best ideas come to them when they're either in bed, in their bath or riding the bus...

Which is typically when they are no longer working on any problems but have shifted their minds into wandering, gazing, boredom,...

Creative people build this 'incubation' time into their creative work.
Whether it's creating a painting, working on a project or figuring out a scientific problem.

That's when they set the painting aside for a while.
It's when they let petri dishes sit for a week.

  • So, stop running after the result. 
  • Don't let yourself be pressured for an answer, an idea or a solution.
  • Take your time. 
  • Put the project/problem on the shelf for a while and go do something else.
  • Take a break.

And next time you're out jogging, shopping or riding the bus, an idea may pop into your head that puts you on the right track, brings you a step further or even hands you the solution.


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