Best Practices for Creativity and Productivity

Source: The Creativity Post, Oct 2012

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.

When it comes to verbal memory, spatial orientation, inductive reasoning, and vocabulary, this group’s 45-year-old selves way outperform their 25-year-old selves. Peak performance in these areas occurs between 40 and 65, according to Willis in her book Life in the Middle.

Take-away: If you’re middle-aged and blush because you seem to work more slowly, take heart. You’re likely working at far more effective, complex levels than your younger co-workers. It’s not only okay to take breaks during your work flow. It’s recommended if you want to perform at your best.

BREAK WITH RHYTHM. Our bodies and minds have natural rhythms of optimal performance. For most of us, those rhythms are in 90-minute to 2-hour increments. Our natural rapid-eye-movement dream cycles, for instance, typically flow in 90-minute waves.


THE FULL MONTE NAP: In some work environments, taking a 20-minute break still might be risky. Taking a real nap might be tantamount to losing a job. And many psychologists recommend not taking a full nap because doing so will make you feel groggy. Personally, I agree.

Still, sleep expert and psychologist Sara Mednick’s research begs to differ. She gave students a series of creative problem-solving tasks. Some students took no naps. Some students took catnaps. And some students took full-fledged 90-minute naps complete with REM dreams.

The results? Only those students who took the full REM-level naps showed boosts in creative problem-solving performance.

ENJOY YOUR EVENINGS. According to organization psychologist Sabine Sonnentag at the University of Konstanz, Germany, people who disengage from thinking about their work during the evening are routinely happier and more refreshed the next day.



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