Helping Creative People Create

Get Productive (And Let Your Mind Wander)

It seems like whenever I sit down to do a task that requires brainstorming and planning (like writing a blog post), it’s a lot harder to stay focused. Maybe that’s just the ‘ol ADHD kickin’ in, but I’m guessing I’m not the only one out there who has a hard time when it comes to staying focused while mapping out a project. I can sit and stare at a blank screen for hours, and nothing will come to me. Yet there are times when I do some really amazing brainstorming, and I’ve found some constants that are always present when I go on those idea-hatching spurts. The main constant: you need to be doing something else.

The mind is a fickle thing. I’ve found that the brain does not like to be told when to be creative. If you tell it to think, it won’t. But if you’re doing a small task that doesn’t require much thinking, you can bet your mind is working overtime, and it’s working on something completely different than what is in front of you. Here’s an example: last week I drove to my parents house and went running in the country. During the run and half-hour drive each way, I managed to come up with 10 blog posting ideas. They just came to me. I wasn’t thinking about driving because I’ve driven that route a hundred times, and I wasn’t thinking about running because I run all the time, and it’s a fairly automated process.

The trick is planning for times when your mind can wonder. It’s during these times that you’ll be the most creative. While you excercise, driving, household chores, taking a walk, at the beach… this is when you’ll find creativity oozing out of your brain. Odds are you may not even notice that you’re being really creative and productive. If you can become aware of that and always have something close by to write your ideas down on, you’re set.

A wandering mind can be a very, very good thing. You just have to be ready for it.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

allaboutryder August 9, 2006 at 8:36 am

This a great blog, keep up the good work. Feel free to come check us out.

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James August 10, 2006 at 8:59 am

Congratulations on the Blog; I hope the quality of content remains high.

One quick question: The category entitled “Formaing Goals”. Should this be “Forming Goals”?

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glen August 10, 2006 at 7:19 pm

Good catch James. :)

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Rian August 14, 2006 at 6:55 am

Yes, I find when I do household chores, or go for a drive, ideas come in torrents. Or instead of fast and shallow, they’ll be narrow and deep and I’ll be thinking about something, wishing I had some way to record my thoughts. (Maybe I should start carrying my pocket recorder again…)

I always have lots of notepads handy while I’m doing housework so I can jot things down. It sucks when you’re trying to do dishes, though. ;)

In any event, there’s a reason people’s best ideas “come in the shower.”

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jen August 14, 2006 at 7:32 am

Found you through David Rowse and have enjoyed the content–especially the “idea dumping” tips.

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nate August 14, 2006 at 6:14 pm

I’ve been sucked in. You’ve been added to my RSS reader. It’s posts like this, which I agree with whole-heartedly, that make me think that you’re the voice in my brain.

Thanks for posting.

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glen August 15, 2006 at 10:27 am

Hi guys:

Jen: thanks for the kind words. Darren is the man!

Nate: Hopefully the voices in your brain aren’t like the voices in mine… ;) Just kidding there. Glad to hear we’re on the same page.

Rian: It’s funny you mention the best ideas in the shower bit. I just had a great one today.

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Brittany May 21, 2007 at 6:51 pm

I am 11 years old and i mind wander as you call it and I do it so much I cold have filled up a cople note books with questions that i have thought of, but I mind wander alot when i am spossed to be sleeping. my bed time is at 8:00 and i ussaly got to sleep some time around 10:00 – 12:00. I will defanatly start having a note book on my nite stand.

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Loli August 14, 2007 at 4:01 pm

hi guys, this happens to me all the time, I need to read a good article or blog or sth calls my atention and that is the trigger to new ideas… but these ideas come when I do household chores. So I try to have near me sth to write the ideas. I just need a trigger to start writing.
thanks for this great blog! you’re an inspiration.

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jon July 31, 2008 at 7:58 pm

lmao this is so true! especially for me! i am most creative when i take a shower! as odd as that sounds lmao.

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