Creativity comes from the spaces


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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  1. Susan Ekins

    Enjoyed your post, Donn. Yes, I’ve found that timeouts boost my creativity, especially when I take time alone in nature. A walk outside or sitting on a bench at a local arboretum or forest preserve (with a journal) help immensely.

    • Donn King

      I appreciate that, Susan! I love getting outside as well–I used to spend hours walking all over similar spaces. Unfortunately, the times in between those trips have gotten longer, and I find it much more difficult to walk long distances as I’ve gotten older (arthritic hips). It’s really easy, under those circumstances, to forgo alone time in nature. I have to allow myself the luxury of going to a park and sitting, even if I can’t get as deeply in the woods as I once did. It’s still a break from the electronics and the calendar.

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