Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Enhancing Creativity III

Incubating an idea
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

Another creativity-enhancing technique involves taking a break from solving a problem and doing something else. It is important that this break takes place after giving the problem some thought, so that the break provides an incubation period for any ideas you may have begun to form.

I should mention right now that the ‘break’ pictured here at the top of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola took place during our annual Mothers Day weekend in Squamish.  I had not given any thought at all to the ‘problem’ of taking an online Psychology of Creativity course which was to begin the day after Mothers Day, and thus had no preparatory ideas to incubate. Anyway, misleading painting title aside, when we returned home Sunday night, I found a lot of preliminary reading and a long interactive lesson module in my email Inbox. Long story short, I got through it in time for the first 10 am live computer session Monday morning – even after the belated discovery that it was 10 am Eastern time (7 am Pacific) but I digress. Back to the concept of incubating an idea...

A nap that achieves REM sleep provides the ideal ‘incubation’ period. If the schedule can’t include this, similar benefits can be achieved by doing some mind-numbing (and mind-wandering-inducing) task during the break. This has been tested in a controlled laboratory setting with boring computer tasks (like hitting the space bar whenever a letter other than E appears on your screen) but most of us have noticed that boring jobs encourage daydreaming. Isn’t it great that scientists have shown this is a good thing!