Are you having trouble getting back to work after your vacation?
For two weeks, you got no work-related phone calls and emails. You didn’t have to make important decisions and have endless meetings? You enjoyed lying in the hammock, strolling on the beach and admiring the beautiful scenery. You may have even been a little bored at the end of the holiday and felt the need to do something.
You may have got new ideas and thoughts about your life and work, right?
Your brain has rested, and you can come up with smart work-related solutions.
Various studies have shown that our creativity decreases after we become stressed and exhausted. That is a widespread problem in the majority of public and private organizations. You can’t take time out to stop and think about how things can be improved or done differently. Our brain (hard disk) gets overloaded with information and cannot take it in anymore. A stressed-out brain is no longer creative and switches into ‘autopilot’ mode.
Researchers have analyzed 300,000 creativity tests conducted over 50 years (on both children and adults) and discovered that the creativity score was at its peak in 1990 and has steadily declined since then. That’s remarkable!
Creativity is something that all individuals, companies, and organizations need to keep pace with changes in the workplace. It is also crucial to our future. Without it, we won’t be able to adapt and quickly find new solutions. When you lack creativity and confidence in your skills, you consider any work a monotonous act, and you’d rather buy thesis paper than write it yourself.
According to the researchers, the problem is not that we don’t think enough — we overthink!
We simply can’t stop thinking! We think all the time and have distracting thoughts that prevent us from coming up with new and creative ideas. We often get stuck trying to solve the same problem and cannot make any further progress. Many people don’t know what they want in their careers and life. They are stuck and unable to move on, which leads to stagnation, frustration, anxiety, and internal stress.
Unconscious Thought Processes
In his book “One Second Ahead,” Rasmus Hougaard describes what Pablo Picasso did to come up with creative solutions. The first thing he did was carefully explore the area he wanted to work with (by reading books). After doing that for a while, he put away the books and… took a bath.
The bath caused Picasso to stop thinking consciously and start thinking unconsciously.
Your creative process should, therefore, be divided into 4 steps:
- Formulate a problem. Identify a simple and easy to resolve the issue. Write it down on a piece of paper. Begin like this: My problem is that…
- Then, try not to think about a possible solution for a while (but don’t throw away the sheet of paper).
- Now, let time work for you. Take a bath like Picasso did or do something else: mindfulness training (meditation), physical exercise (physical activity), a power nap, sleep for a while. All these 4 activities are known to contribute to creativity greatly.
- Then, grab a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind without being too specific. Sometimes, you’ll need more time to come up with new thoughts and ideas.
Coaching and Creativity
In coaching, you work a lot with the unconscious thought process. Your coach helps you identify the problem you’re facing and deal with it at the subconscious level. There is the Life & Career Map method whereby you create a vision of the future and then do a relaxation exercise (e.g., meditation). It lets you get in touch with the unconscious part of your brain and awaken your emotions. After a few weeks, you realize what it is you want and what you should do to achieve it. Our mind has regained its creativity and found new ways to solve problems. That’s how we make time work for us. It’s all about having patience.
So, how do you stop thinking all the time and get more creative? Here are some tips:
- Take a break at regular intervals and focus on your breathing — count to 10 and then count back from 10 to 1 on each breath.
- Do other things when you don’t think consciously. Do something practical: singing, fixing things in the garden, doing yoga exercises, listening to music, or taking a hot bath like Picasso.
- Exercise and move. Do a lot of walking, cycling, and dancing.
- Begin with meditation.
- Go to the countryside. Enjoy the birds singing and beautiful e scenery.
- ‘Empty’ your brain now and then. Write down your thoughts. If you wake up at night with your head full of thoughts, write them down in a notebook that you’ll keep next to your bed.
- You don’t have to do everything using the conscious part of your brain. Consider a walk in the park part of the process of being creative and effective.
Now that you know what to do, you’ll have a much easier time going back to work after vacation. Let your life be as creative as it gets!