Most CEOs feel like they have to be ‘on’ all the time.

Whether it’s keeping up with social media, finding new ways of attracting customers or maintaining our brand’s image online.

It can be difficult to get away for a break.

Although CEOs are frequently advised to take downtime, many still feel guilty about stepping away from their desks even if it is just for 15 minutes; often CEOs only do this when they’re on vacation. There seems to be an idea that CEOs should work 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to successfully run their business.

This is not true.

CEOs will be more productive when they allow themselves time off instead of trying to squeeze every last drop out of their bodies and minds by working through weekends and holidays.

After all, have you ever wondered why your best ideas come in the shower?

Why Do Our Best Ideas Come to Us in the Shower? | Mental Floss
Great ideas come in the shower. But why? Source: Mental floss

What the science says about creative inspiration.

Cognitive Scientist Scott Barry Kaufman conducted some research, he discovered:

72% of us get our best ideas in the shower.

“We did a multinational study and found that people reported more creative inspiration in the shower than they did at work”

Scott Barry Kaufman

Where else do the most creative ideas occur?

Anything that triggers dopamine is said to have a positive effect on relaxation and creativity.

This could include:

  • Walking the dog
  • Gardening
  • Listening to chilled music
  • Daydreaming
  • Watching a funny video

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It has a transformative effect on your body and brain.

Dopamine plays a key role in the way we feel pleasure. Not only does it help us relax, it also helps us think, plan, focus and find interest in things we can learn.

Famously, it’s what social media companies try and trigger in our brain with things like the ‘like’ button.

Has dopamine got us hooked on tech? | Technology | The Guardian
Source: The Guardian

How can we trigger a relaxed state?

Ideally it would be great if we didn’t just do our best thinking in the shower.

It would be helpful to find some inspiration at work!

Consider these tips from Tor Myhren. He’s Apple’s vice president of Marketing Communications, formerly of the advertising firm that came up with the E*TRADE talking babies campaign.

He relies on creativity for a living, so naturally he’s taken the process to the extreme.

He suggests ‘fooling’ the brain through overactivity, followed by total calm.

“[Take] in as much information as possible throughout the day—reading magazines, watching films, etc.,” he says. “So you have all that information in your brain, sort of an information or inspiration overload, and then take that, spend some time by yourself, and really let it all come together.”

Tor Myhren

How to stay creative: a conclusion

The talk around relaxation and creativity isn’t a myth. It’s based on science.

So before you consider knuckling down and just working harder, know that you’re physically blocking some of the natural processes your brain needs to thrive.

  • To trigger dopamine and stimulate creativity, try the following:
  • Take deliberate breaks at work
  • Distract yourself with downtime and do something totally different
  • Set yourself limits about switching off
  • Try the overload, solitary confinement technique
  • And finally… Shower at least twice a day!

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