It’s a cliché, isn’t it? All the best ideas come to you when you’re walking the dog or unloading the dishwasher or in the shower.
Anywhere but where you’re meant to be – sitting in front of your computer, being eyeballed by Google.
Why is it that when people leave their desks and take a stroll, ideas pop into their heads? They might not be fully-formed, but at least they’re ideas. The very things that were giving you the cold shoulder 10 minutes ago.
Is it because you’re resting your brain? Or feeding it more oxygen as your limbs move around? Is it the new surroundings, complete with fresh air and clouds?
Why it works.
A while back, Standford published a study on why ‘walking improves creativity’. The researchers looked at creativity levels when you’re sitting and when you’re walking. They found that levels went up by an average of 60% when you move.
And the main factor is the act of walking, rather than your backdrop. Your environment has no bearing on your inspiration. It can be really, really dull and you’ll still feel mentally refreshed.
One of the authors, Marily Oppezzo, an educational psychologist, said:
I thought walking outside would blow everything out of the water, but walking on a treadmill in a small boring room still had strong results, which surprised me.
Participants did different things: walking indoors on a treadmill or sitting indoors, both facing a blank wall. Others walked outdoors or sat outdoors or being pushed in wheelchair. When it came to diverging thinking – which helps you to come up with creative ideas by exploring a variety of possible solutions – walking really helped.
(Health warning: it’s not so great when you need to focus, marshalling your thoughts to come up with a single answer.)
Get up and go.
So if you need to storm your brain and get a new perspective, no more excuses. You can take that quick break, confident in the knowledge that it’ll boost your creative productivity. What are you waiting for?
Images of Miranda by Vervate.