…And, even better, here’s what to do about it:
Why Morning Routines Are Creativity Killers – by Annie Murphy Paul
Brrriiinnng. The alarm clock buzzes in another hectic weekday morning. You leap out of bed, rush into the shower, into your clothes and out the door with barely a moment to think. A stressful commute gets your blood pressure climbing. Once at the office, you glance through the newspaper, its array of stories ranging from discouraging to depressing to tragic. With a sigh, you pour yourself a cup of coffee and get down to work, ready to do some creative, original problem solving.
Good luck with that.
As several recent studies highlight, the way most of us spend our mornings is exactly counter to the conditions that neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists tell us promote flexible, open-minded thinking. Take that hurried wake-up, for example. In a study published in the journal Thinking and Reasoning last year, researchers Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks reported that imaginative insights are most likely to come to us when we’re groggy and unfocused. The mental processes that inhibit distracting or irrelevant thoughts are at their weakest in these moments, allowing unexpected and sometimes inspired connections to be made. Sleepy people’s “more diffuse attentional focus,” they write, leads them to “widen their search through their knowledge network. This widening leads to an increase in creative problem solving.” By not giving yourself time to tune in to your meandering mind, you’re missing out on the surprising solutions it may offer. (If you happen to be one of those perky morning people, your most inventive time comes when you’re winding down in the early evening.)..
The only thing most of us do right in the morning, in fact, is drink coffee. Caffeine not only makes us more alert, as we all know — it also increases the brain’s level of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that influences feelings of motivation and reward when we hit on a great idea. (Nicotine does this too, but I can’t in good conscience recommend an a.m. cigarette.)
So what would our mornings look like if we re-engineered them in the interest of maximizing our creative-problem-solving capacities? We’d set the alarm a few minutes early and lie awake in bed….
“Aw, Mom, do I have to get out of bed now? Now…?”
“No, kiddo, not at all. Just lie back and relax for awhile…”
Word we never heard. But according to this article we should have. Dayum!