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Stepping Away From Your Work Skillfully Can Trick Your Brain To Be More Productive

Stepping Away From Your Work Skillfully Can Trick Your Brain To Be More Productive

Do you work long hours believing it’s the most effective way to get your tasks completed? If you do, then you’re not alone – it’s a common perception held by many that ultimate performance is achieved through time and effort and often think this is how to be more productive in our work life.

Our productivity is like a rubber band stretching to its capacity. Working harder is adding extra stretch to the rubber band but it’s futile because the rubber band will only end up over-stretching and break. When we put so much effort and hard work in one sitting, as tempting and productive as that can seem, it is counteracting how our brains work and finally our productivity levels deteriorate over time because we do not take the necessary breaks.

Taking Breaks Is Good For Your Productivity

Vacations are something we often look forward to but how much do we take advantage of these much needed breaks? A recent study found that employees who took vacations displayed higher levels of productivity, morale and improved job satisfaction.

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A real-life story that validates the finding: Mark Douglas, the CEO of advertising and marketing company Steelhouse, wanted to boost both his employees work life satisfaction and his company’s overall success by paying his workers $2000 a year to take a vacation.

Surprisingly, through this policy, he has not only cultivated a sense of trust and increased overall happiness within his company, but he also found that people who come to work recharged are more productive!

Focused Mode And Diffused Mode

The reason taking time out for vacations and taking breaks is so great for our productivity has much to do with how our brains work. We have two types of thinking modes: focused mode and diffused mode.

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Focused mode is when we spend long amounts of time on a task. It may involve marathon sessions of work, studying, memorising and problem-solving. Our brains focus entirely on what we need to do but can often lead to cramming too much in and believing getting something done all at once is ultimately productive but can lead to counter-productivity due to us not working at our best capacity.

Diffused mode is when we’re doing something else entirely and vaguely, sometimes subconsciously, thinking about what you are trying to solve. This happens when we take breaks and go on vacation – in other words, it’s creating a space where our subconscious mind is open to inspired action and problem-solving.

So by switching back and forth between these two modes, we’ll be more productive when switching back to a focused mode after spending time in the diffused mode during our breaks.

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How To Be More Productive Through Taking Breaks

To learn how to be more productive, we actually need to adopt both modes of thinking. Switching between focused and diffused modes is where the magic happens. While it’s important for our mind to be focused by spending time retaining details, learn and concentrate at a task, we also need the space for our mind to be more free and open to let the subconscious mind take over and allowing the information to be processed more effectively.

That means you should break down your work schedule into smaller, regular sessions and make sure you take breaks in between to take advantage of the diffused mode. This could mean just switching off and taking a walk, exercising, listening to music or the ultimate break – taking a vacation.

We mustn’t underestimate the benefits we reap from taking time out and relaxing. If we make it all about focused mode we don’t take advantage of our brain’s true potential and ability to be at its most productive. So don’t shy away or judge yourself for stepping away from your work – you are doing your productivity and, ultimately, your career a massive favour.

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Featured photo credit: snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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