In post-pandemic times, staying creative and productive without sacrificing your health and well-being is critical. If you can't take care of yourself first, how do you expect to thrive in your work or life?
Even more important is being able to take care of your brain--that part of you that controls everything you do. When it's functioning at a high level, like being in a state of flow, it's magical.
The best thing of all? Anyone can train his or her brain to improve its cognitive function to think better and more clearly, experience more insight, and have more creative breakthroughs.
Here are four things you can do for a more productive and imaginative brain.
1. Put yourself in unfamiliar places
Want to experience more sudden bursts of creativity and insight? Research suggests the surest way to provoke the imagination is to seek out environments you have no experience with. Booking your next corporate offsite at a typical conference room in your typical five-star hotel doesn't create an environment that leads to new insights. Instead, new breakthroughs come from new people and new environments -- any circumstance in which the brain has a hard time predicting what will happen next.
The book Imagine: How Creativity Works teaches us to access right-brained thinking as the gateway for more innovative thoughts and creative breakthroughs. One suggested brain hack in the book is to rid yourself of intense focus--a left-brain activity that can trigger stress and hamper your imagination. Instead, the research suggests allowing for more abstract ideas to take shape (a right-brain activity), which will release more creative insight. One way to do that is to practice "productive daydreaming" while doing something relaxing. Think how many times you've come up with something brilliant out of the blue while taking a hot shower or bath.
3. Give employees some freedom to do what they want
Researchers have determined that employees who are given time during the workday to do whatever they want--whether it's a side project or simply tinkering with something new or a hobby--are far more likely to develop innovative or creative thoughts. This sends an important message that the employer trusts their workers to find solutions and manage their time in their own way.
4. Let people play
Researchers found that people who have fun on the job are more creative and productive, make better decisions, and get along better with colleagues. They also are much less likely to call in sick or show up late to work than people who aren't having fun. To unlock your creative potential, one study at the University of Toronto suggests hacking the brains of your employees with more play activities to lift their mood and generate ideas. Studies also say that a culture of fun can improve work quality and mental health in five different ways:
- Fun breaks up boredom and fatigue.
- Fun fulfills human social needs.
- Fun increases creativity and willingness to help.
- Fun improves communication.
- Fun breaks up conflict and tension.