I have just been on holiday, and I was clear that I had no intention of thinking at all for a couple of weeks! At first, it worked perfectly. My thinking consisted of: am I hungry/thirsty? Do I want to swim? Do I want to read or talk? And because there was nothing I had to do, I found it very refreshing to allow the answer to just come from my own genuine feelings, instead of being influenced by external obligations.
After a while, a strange thing started to happen. Quite unbidden insights would suddenly appear in my head, on all sorts of subjects, work and home related. They were all in the category of creative solutions to issues that had been around for me pre-holiday, but they had required no analysis, no in-depth thinking through on my part.
Since returning home, I have been reflecting on this, and believe that creative thinking comes from a state of being where there is a lack of everyday pressure, and where our conscious attention is on something completely different.
How do we achieve this state of being when we are not able to go off on holiday every couple of weeks?! I propose the following:
1) Tell yourself what it is that you want to sort out e.g. I want to find an innovative way of presenting this information
2) Allow yourself some treats to resource yourself – a nice meal, a lie in, a natter with an old friend
3) Do something which enthrals you and takes all your attention – a jigsaw puzzle, some gardening, a good movie or book, a walk in the fresh air, noticing all the signs of Spring
(Through all of stages 2 and 3 you are not thinking consciously about your issue at all. In fact, if it comes to mind, pay attention to something else)
4) After you have finalised stage 3, sit down with a pen and paper, and write: I want to find an innovative way to… , and what I could do is… , and just keep writing. You may find you have several ideas. Don’t judge or critique them – just record them
5) Finally, give yourself something else that feels good – a glass of wine, a night out with friends, – anything which is a reward for your own creativity.
This has worked for me since I came home, a couple of times. Let me know if it works for you!