The more we study the brain and evolution, the more we’re discovering that the idle brain is more likely to come up with new ideas. Yet we’re conditioned to be focused, efficient, and task-oriented. Yes, focus and efficiency are important in terms of executing ideas; but when it comes to ‘thinking the big thoughts’, it’s important to give your mind some time to rest and wander.
If you or your employees are charged with coming up with new ideas or strategies, be sure to schedule some idle time into your day or week. Not brainstorming time, not research time—but idle time. Leave yourself time to let your mind wander. Take a break from email and meetings and go take a walk. Mental breaks are important when it comes to being creative and opening up to new, fresh ideas.
There’s no special formula to follow. Some people take short breaks during a hectic day to decompress and think. Others take a couple of days each month; or a week or two each year. The duration of your idle time isn’t what’s important—the fact that you give yourself this time is.