The great idea that arrives in the shower may seem like a clich of creativity--but a study of entrepreneurs shows the notion is actually true. (Check out the infograph below.)
But since it's not really feasible to spend all day in the shower (personally or environmentally), how can we duplicate the benefits of shower thinking?
Here are some ideas:
1. Find the flow.
Just as the shower can give you a blank slate, you can clear your desk and your mind and allow yourself to be totally involved in the topic at hand. Engaging in a creative activity under those circumstances often leads to what's called a flow state--when time seems to stand still and you're 100 percent involved in the task at hand. It's a powerful state.
2. Kill the distraction.
Little if any of the outside world makes its way into the shower. Turning off the computer, the phone, and other distraction fosters creativity and gives you the opportunity to generate more new ideas.
3. Give yourself permission to daydream.
Another thing missing from the shower? An agenda. It's a place where you usually feel you can daydream, allowing thoughts to come to you outside of the usual problem-solution structure. Daydreaming is beneficial because it allows ideas to incubate.
4. Hit a reset switch.
Memory is competitive. When you starting thinking about a problem, old ideas and previous solutions will jump to the forefront of your mind. It is human nature to use memory in this way, but it amounts to solving today's problems with yesterday's ideas. Doing something to reset your mind can help make room for new ideas. Maybe you can't strip down and get wet, but you can walk down the hall or climb some steps, spend a few minutes outdoors, or even brush your teeth as a reset switch.
Some other top answers to the study's question "Where are you when ideas happen?" include running, reading, and over coffee.
A new perspective always helps when you want to come up with new ideas and solutions. Anything you can do to shift your perspective gives you some distance. And with distance, some of those details fade away and your understanding of the issue more abstract. And it's those changes that spur creative thinking.
So remember, even if you can't take a shower or go for a run, you can gain the effect and achieve better creative thinking right where you are.