Breaking Through: How Taking a Break Can Help You Overcome a Creative Block

Creativity is not a word reserved for painters, musicians, and writers. It is an essential quality for any successful business owner. Writing a report, addressing a logistical issue, attracting new clients: all of these tasks benefit from taking a creative approach.

For artists and business people alike, creativity can sometimes be an elusive concept, all the harder to find when you are desperately seeking it.

Although it is in our nature to push ourselves without rest until we experience that stroke of genius, doing so can be counterintuitive and actually block the creative process rather than help it.

In fact, many studies suggest that taking a break is a great way to boost your creativity. Taking a break gives your ideas an opportunity to incubate. You shift your focus from the subject at hand so you can allow your subconscious mind to find a solution.

While it is not uncommon for professionals to take a break from work to read emails, browse Facebook, or check Twitter, there are many other break-time activities better suited to get your creative juices flowing.

Leave your office and get moving

To disengage fully from your work and allow your mind to rest, you must step away from your office and physically leave your work behind. Sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen for hours at a time is both physically and mentally draining. A dull and tired mind is not conducive to producing your next great idea.

Exercise is an ideal way to refresh your mind and body. Taking a walk and experiencing the sights and sounds of your natural environment allows your mind to wander and frees you from your mental rut. A change in environment is a great way to change your perspective. You will return to your office re-energized, ready to tackle the problems at hand.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, stroll through your office building or spend a few minutes stretching. Either one will still give you some much needed energy.

Unplug

In today’s business world, your workplace is no longer just a physical space. Your work follows you on your laptop, cellphone and tablet. Even if you take the initiative to leave your office and take a break, one email alert on your cellphone will quickly pull your focus back to your work. The only way to truly disconnect from your work is to disconnect your technology.

It is not just the connection to work resources that can stifle creativity. It’s also that the constant distractions associated with modern technology have made it difficult for us to maintain an absorbed focus on any one task. Once you hit a wall with one task, your mind immediately engages in another activity, not allowing you the time and space to work through the problem.

Technology has made multi-tasking the norm and has virtually eliminated idleness. This is not something to be avoided; it creates room in your mind for new ideas to take hold. So power down the computer, turn off the phone, and allow your mind to drift.

Get inspired

The world is filled with the creative works of others; taking the time to experience these works can spark creativity in your own mind. Looking at the world through the eyes of a creative mind challenges you to view your own world in a new perspective.

If paintings and sculpture inspire you, then visiting an art gallery on your break can revive your creativity. If history or invention fascinate you, take a trip to a museum. Music has inspired many creative minds, as it moves us through our memories and imaginations. Playing music in the background while you work or taking the time to focus and listen to a few great songs can both be excellent ways to get the creative juices flowing.

The written word can also open your mind to new possibilities. You may find inspiration in the story of a novel, but reading can also train your mind to think more creatively. Reading a book forces you to use your imagination, build images, and form opinions, while engaging in critical and logical thinking to process information.

Reading uses both your creative and logical minds, thus training you to use both sides of your brain to tackle problems in everyday life. Next time you are feeling uninspired, open a book and get lost in its pages. Remember, whatever it is that inspires you, take time out every day to experience it.

Creativity and innovation can sometimes be difficult to find in your workplace. The answer, however, may just be to stop, take a break, and step away from your routine so new thoughts and ideas can take shape.

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