Neuroscientific research is beginning to shed light on the idea that to be more productive and creative, we need to make break-taking a regular practice. In his recent bestselling book Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer writes:
“While it’s commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to relentlessly focus, this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost: it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs. We suppress the very type of brain activity that should be encouraged.”
The challenge, though, is that we’re generally reticent to take those breaks, especially when it comes to our work and business. But many of us might not know an effective brain-rest technique aside from the obvious (take deep breaths, close your eyes) and the time-consuming (who has time to meditate for hours or take yoga three days a week?). So here are three targeted, quick and easy ways to rest your brain and maximize productivity.
More and more people are turning to meditation in the workplace. According to Bill George, a Harvard leadership professor and bestselling author, meditation has been an integral part of his career. Google in 2007 initiated a mindfulness and meditation course at Google University, encouraging employees to use the practice to increase self-awareness, focus and attention. New research from the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging suggests that people who meditate show more gray matter in certain regions of the brain, show stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy. In other words, meditation might make your brain bigger, faster and younger.
If you commute via public transportation (or even if you're a passenger in a car pool) use the time to close your eyes for 10 minutes. If you drive, leave a little early, park and spend 10 minutes in the car. Choose a very specific image, such as a waterfall, beach, tree, etc. and try to focus on it alone. If other thoughts get in the way, gently push them aside. Do this once or twice per day. The goal is not to sleep, but rather to be in a relaxed state, letting your mind focus and relax.