Improve Creativity by Taking Breaks

In other words: Stop and smell the roses. Here’s how:

Or the posies. Whatever.

Best Rest Practices for Optimal Productivity & Creativity – by Jeffrey Davis

We know taking breaks optimizes work-and-create flow. But what are the best practices and under what conditions? Some people advise mindful breaks. Others suggest full-blown hour-long naps. Much depends, according to the research, upon your circumstances and your desired ends.

An optimal work-and-create flow is an extended period of time in which your mind and body are performing at their best when engaged in high-thinking and high-imagining tasks and projects. You sustain focus, your body’s fire stays stoked, your attitude flourishes, your imagination hangs from the monkey bars.

But most of us know that pulling all-nighters and pumping our bodies with caffeine does not an optimal work-and-create flow make.

Here’s a quick review of relevant studies and my suggestions based on my own experiences and in working with first-rate authors, designers, and entrepreneurs.

THE YOUTHFUL BRAIN IS FASTER BUT… not necessarily better (and working 16-hour days is not necessarily more productive). I know numerous twenty-somethings who champion their 16-hour work days and Silicon Valley-like war stories of all-nighters to innovate a software product. Among some twenty-somethings, to work-and-crash is cool.

If you’ve reached the middle years and bemoan your inability to think quickly or work as hard as you used to, take note of psychologist Sherry Willis’s longitudinal study of cognitive performance, the Seattle Longitudinal Study. For more than 40 years, this study has tracked the cognitive performance of over 6,000 healthy men and women.

True, most twenty-something brains process information more efficiently. But not necessarily more effectively.

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