Creativity comes from the spaces

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Earlier today, my computer was acting weird, so I decided to reboot it. Rather than simply restarting it, though, I shut it all the way down.

This is probably the first time it has been completely shut down in a month. I’m one of those folks who tends to just shut the lid and let it hibernate so that it’s instantly available when I need it, and since it’s a Macbook, it can be weeks before some software glitch causes enough of a problem to make me reboot compared to having to do that two or three times a day sometimes on a Windows machine (although I’m not really trying to restart that debate).

The sense of relief and relaxation I felt was remarkable mainly because I hadn’t noticed how tense I felt until then.

I just left the thing off for ten minutes or so. I have deadlines, so I didn’t feel comfortable stopping longer than that, but I also found that short break refreshed me enough to make the following task easier.

When you have a writing deadline or a speaking deadline, it’s very easy to not leave enough spaces in your schedule to simply allow some “soak” time. I don’t care whether you call it rest, relaxation, meditation, down time, introvert time, or whatever–everyone needs it to do their best creative work, even extroverts.

May be it has something to do with what research says about how we learn best–frequent, shorter times of practice with lots of feedback. “Spaces” in our work time provide the dividers that give our brains the time to process experience.

However it works, I’ve seen plenty of evidence it does. In fact, rather than costing time, it will save you time in the long run, since you also spend less time banging your head against a wall. You just need to be careful not to let the need for spaces turn into procrastination.

How have you found that taking “time outs” helps your creativity?

Photo Credit: Sonjournermonde cc, via Wikimedia Commons

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with individuals and organizations who want to forge top-notch communication skills to increase their influence and impact. He is associate professor of speech and journalism at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.