Next time you're stumped in a crossword, put your pencil (or pen) down and walk away. Forget about it. Come back in a few hours or days and you'll be amazed to see solutions where before you were stuck. Same with writing or, perhaps, just about anything else creative.
I rarely do my best writing when I’m trying to do too many things at once. Or, when I’m too tired. Plus, I know that the first thing I write is seldom the best I write. Know what I mean?
Turns out that these observations follow a common thread…and have some science connecting them.
I re-discovered a great story that illustrates this. Last summer, The New York Times reported about five neuroscientists who spent a week in late May 2010 in a remote area of southern Utah, rafting the San Juan River, camping on the soft banks and hiking the tributary canyons.
It was a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects.
The five reached a rough consensus, agreeing more or less that heavy exposure to technology and other stimulation leaves less room in our brains for storing and integrating ideas.
So, do what I do. When I get stuck in a crosswords puzzle, for example, I’m amazed how I can solve clues after I put the paper aside and come back to it way later. Or, when I look at a draft of whatever I’m writing a day or two later…and often discover all sorts ways to make improvements.
Seth, BTW, may have tapped into something similar when he suggested that you get a fresh set of eyes to challenge whatever you’re writing, building or designing.
But before you click on one more thing, turn off, tune out and take a break. Your brain (and clients) will thank you.