This is a question I often ask busy managers. Here are the most common answers.
- First thing in the morning (after a good nights sleep)
- In the gym
- Walking the dog
- On holidays (but not deliberately thinking about work)
- Sitting in the garden
- Standing on top of a mountain
- or sometimes they say “it just came to me one day”
What is the common thread? They all have their best ideas away from work. No one so far has said to me I had a Eureka moment sitting at my desk staring at a screen. Newton is famous for “discovering” gravity sitting under an apple tree.
Why do we have our best ideas away from work?
The brain is an incredible machine that processes information in the background without conscious awareness. When faced with a challenge, it combines all the hard facts along with our experience, feelings and our values & beliefs to come up with the right answer.
But to allow the brain to do this work, we need to free it up from consciously thinking about the challenge. We need to allow our brains to process in their own mysterious ways and to resist directing it consciously. Psychologists call this incubation.
So if you are struggling to work something out, then forget about it and let your brain do the rest.