Published On: Fri, Jan 24th, 2020

January Blues: Make more time to doodle, walk and daydream at work

January Blues, walk, doodle, daydream

Oh, the dark and grey days of January. They call Christmas the holiday season, and perhaps that’s why January is imbued with such a strong dose of post-holiday-blues (the kind that makes returning to work after a sunny getaway seem like a comparative walk in the park).

From a pessimistic perspective, there are more than a few reasons to dislike the infamously least-liked month. The days are short, the nights are long, and there’s no Christmas cheer to warm the cold outside. It’s not all doom and gloom though; whether you’re a resolution sceptic or not, January is a great time to set some fresh goals at work and lay a foundation for an enthusiastic and productive first quarter.

This year, you should make time to doodle, walk and daydream at work. Here’s why:

Doodle

Yes, you might think that doodling is something reserved for nursery classes or being stuck listening to mind-numbing hold music – but to limit it to these scenarios is to miss out on a great creative tool. The wonderful thing about doodling is that it allows you to tap into a state known as “transient hypofrontality”.

Don’t let the long-winded name put you off – it’s merely a fancy word which refers to a heightened cognitive state where you form great ideas and unknot problems. The good news is that to enter this state, rather than focusing more, you need to focus less. Doing something mechanical like doodling allows you to relax the focussed part of your brain, while the physical (yet mindless) task of doodling means your brain ‘down-regulates’, thus giving more power to your creative subconscious. When done right, some people feel that they experience an altered state of consciousness – how’s that for a productive doodle?

Walk

As well as being a great way to easily maintain your fitness, walking also comes with a whole host of benefits to cognitive function. Like with doodling, walking can lead you into that transient state of hypofrontality where your ideas get better, and your critical thinking is improved. Not to mention that making walking part of your everyday routine improves the fitness of your heart and lungs and – in the long term – can even help to prevent serious illnesses such as heart disease.

So how do you incorporate walking into the working day? Well, an obvious way is to let employees take walking breaks, but another is to incorporate walking into actual work activities. Walking meetings are growing in popularity and they’re a great way to keep active and get endorphins and ideas flowing for a group brainstorm. Just make sure people have had time to gather knowledge, reflect, and come up with their own ideas first. This way you can get the best out of your walking work adventures.

 

Daydream

 

Contrary to popular belief, daydreaming in work doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As you may have guessed by now, our best ideas don’t come from hard work alone. In many ways, ‘daydream’ is an apt word – we don’t think up our best ideas, we dream them. That’s because our ideation takes place below the surface of our conscious mind. And how do we access that subconscious realm? By letting our minds wander.

Research by the University of British Columbia found that more parts of our brain light up when we daydream than when we put our heads down and do some focused work. As great as this all is, it’s important you put this process into practice properly – read: try focused daydreaming. While this may sound like an oxymoron, the focused daydream process is simply about laying the foundation to build good ideas. By doing your research beforehand, you keep your unconscious, daydreaming mind anchored to your goals.

If daydreaming is the car, knowledge is the fuel which takes you to your new ideas. So read up in the area you’re interested in then sit back, do some doodling or go for a walk, and watch the idea sparks start to fly.

Written by Chris Griffiths with Caragh Medlicott. Chris is a world-leading creativity expert and creator of the app www.ayoa.com – a platform used by top thinkers to boost productivity.

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