Wow! I just read a really helpful report from the CenterforBrainHealth.org with some great advice on sustaining and boosting our creativity and productivity by pursuing a healthy-brain lifestyle. It’s so encouraging to hear more and more about how flexible and adaptable our brain is. In fact, it craves innovation and challenge!
“Train Your Brain to Thrive from Nine to Five” described some techniques for venturing into our day with “renewed mental vigor.” Renewed mental vigor — sounds great, doesn’t it? Here is a simple strategy the report suggested for getting the most from a day. It’s an approach we can easily apply to the writing life:
• The night before, identify one or two of the most pivotal tasks you’re facing — tasks that will require deep thinking and advance your longer term goals/vision. (Note: I do this all the time. I have a small pad by my bed and before going to sleep, I jot down a question about a scene or thorny plot point I need help with.)
• Then simply “sleep on” the question or priorities without any effort, relaxing into the belief that it’s in “good hands” and the answer will come to you. By priming your brain the night before notes the report, “you are likely to have unanticipated, new, and productive ideas. Our brain is always working for us especially during sleep when our rhythms slow down. Your brain consolidates your previous ideas into flashes of new insights that can jump-start your big goals for the day.” In short, “just sleep on it” really works!
• In the morning, as you get ready to begin your day, make it a point to keep your environment quiet except for meaningful conversations. Don’t turn on the TV or radio. Try not to make any calls or even listen to music. Just let your brain continue focusing without interruption on the tasks you gave it the night before.
• When you start to work, don’t get distracted with email or other small tasks. Jump right into the ones you set for yourself the night before. Give them “prime brain time and stick to these top one or two priorities until you make progress.” Start with 15-minute intervals of concentration and work up from there. “You will achieve more in 20 to 30 minutes uninterrupted than you will in over two hours when constantly interrupted.’
• Give yourself regular “brain breaks.” “When working on “mentally challenging activities for more than 25 minutes at a time, take a five-minute break. Your brain quickly resets and recovers from fatigue when you step back. As an added bonus, new visions are likely to arise regarding your task.”
What a promising approach! It works! Just by jotting down a question before I go to bed and then just relaxing and trusting that my mind will work on it, I’ve awakened with some great ideas and solutions. A relaxed mind is a creative mind — this is so true. Why not try this technique and see if it works? I’d love to have you share the results. Write on!