Value Distractions to Be More Productive and Creative

Make conscious connections.


Why do you get your best ideas in the shower?

I don’t need to talk to you directly to know that there are days when you spend an embarrassing amount of time in front of expensive equipment staring blankly at the screen, only to later get your best ideas in the shower.

Right? We think that we need more focus, that we’re not motivated or talented enough. We begin to chide ourselves for our lack of productivity which can then fast lead into a negative feedback loop.

We think “If I just tried harder, worked harder, focused harder” then the ideas will flow and productivity will resume. Only, your brain feels like a dried-up prune with nothing left to give — it’s your biased brain signals that now have you suppressing ideas you see as unrelated.

By trying to force the ideas and creativity, you’re essentially shutting down new thoughts and ideas and hindering your productivity.

You are focusing too hard and it’s paradoxical. You need to be able to shut off distractions so you can focus and get your work done, but now you’re stuck.

Mark Fenske, co-author of The Winner’s Brain explains that some of our best ideas happen in the shower because “shampooing hair and lathering up doesn’t take a lot of cognitive focus — Other parts of the brain can start to contribute.’’

This means we engage in more free association and mind wandering: “And that’s really critical for innovation.’’

I get it. You want to be able to fulfill your creative potential and productivity during your working hours. But when you try to dig in and focus, you find yourself back at the start, frustratingly staring at a blank screen.

So, if you are stuck on a problem, or want to improve your productivity and creativity, an interruption is what you need to free up your mind and force an incubation period.

Shelley H. Carson, author of Your Creative Brain says: “A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

The Blue Mind Concept

Wallace. J. Nichols is the author of Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do — Nichols reinforces Carson’s observations about distractions: “When a person gets distracted, his mind gets a break and the dopamine released during this time helps a person to create some new creative ideas.”

I am a writer. My income is solely based on my words — whether it be through client work or writing my own articles and projects. This means that if I don’t sit down and write each day, I won’t create revenue. I won’t get paid. Sometimes, I get stuck and feel as if I have no more words left in me to produce, or that everything I write is rubbish.

I used to feel guilty when I had an unproductive or uncreative day. But I learned to shift my mindset around both productivity and creativity. Now, I choose to appreciate and value the “distraction” times rather than resisting them.

These are the times when I might feel an urge to get to the water. Being around water helps to clear my mind, balance and ground me. So that when I get back to my desk, I’m ready to get back into it.

Being present with water does something to you — as a person and creative. Here’s why:

Time for Distractions

“A wide-open landscape of wild water is a beautiful, involved, intimate connection — it is something larger than ourselves.”- Nathan Oldfield

We were all born with the potential to create beautiful and meaningful things. It’s just we sometimes need to get distracted from the complex tasks from our daily life. Water and creativity have many things in common and are intertwined.

Nichols:

“Our body has a larger part made up of water and that makes sense when we talk about the correlation between water and creativity. More focus, energy, and our mental and physical fitness are a gift of water.”

We want to reach our full creative potential. We feel better when we’ve put in a productive day. But here’s the thing: If we don’t create blocks of time to self-care, we will never be able to realize and achieve all that we can.

Being near the ocean greatly affects mental well-being. You don’t even need to swim. Just being near the water naturally enables a meditative state. The visual stimuli your brain receives from viewing the water literally opens your mind to new thought experiences — creativity.

If you are fortunate enough to live near a body of water like I am, then you’ll have access to its many benefits such as:

Fresh Air: Air exposed to water, and especially seawater is charged with a good number of negative ions, this fresh air helps your body absorb oxygen.

Strengthened Immune System: Increased relaxation and decreased stress means a strengthened immune system.

Better Sleep: Exposure to water is known to relax the mind and body unlike anything else.

Greater Happiness: Scientists have determined that looking at and enjoying water floods the brain with feel-good hormones. This means that people exposed to water are often more relaxed and happier in general.


But you don’t necessarily have to live near water to gain the benefits of water. You can swim in pools, take baths or sit near a fountain so that you can hear the running water. It’s about finding a way to use water to distract away from your desk, replenish and connect with yourself.

Nichols Blue Mind Concept States:

“When you get into the water, your body doesn’t need stout muscles that uphold your body. Water itself will hold it and help you feel more relaxed. And when this happens your brain areas taking care of this muscles get a break.

Somatically, auditorily, and visually your body is getting a break, actually the rest. And the brain goes to its default mode, a contemplative and self-referential perspective. The freed-up brain areas now can work on other things, let say your creative thinking, and you feel a different way.”


Water is the great sustainer of life and can also be the great sustainer of your productivity and creativity. Even when you are at your workplace and busy going at it, take a break and drink pure water. As Nichols reminds us: “That’s what flow is — relaxing into what you know well and letting creativity happen. Water, literally and metaphorically, allows us to do that and allows you to move in all different directions.”

Water bodies resonate with each other — valuing distractions and consciously connecting with water can change your life for the better and will have a positive effect on your creative and productive output.

You just have to be open to it.


Originally published by Publishous 06/02/2020