Sometimes it’s best to prise yourself away from the computer when in need of new ideas or a fresh perspective. I have my own secret weapon of inspiration… RUNNING! In fact, I’ve just got back from a run and my brain is buzzing, so I thought I’d share my technique- not my running technique, that sucks – my thinking technique.
It’s the magic of mental escapism. When I’ve been mulling over something for a while, getting away from it gives me a chance to clear my head. That’s when the subconscious comes out to play. Once you’ve distracted your over-worked conscious mind with exercise, your subconscious mind is no longer repressed by its dominant thinking overlord and seizes the opportunity to have its say…
…and it has some truly amazing things to say if you let it!
Running seems to work best for me. I think it’s the rhythm coupled with being out in the open and not stuck in the same environment. It’s easy to plod along without too much conscious effort. Other sports just don’t work for me because they require too much focus on technique or there’s too much action. I don’t play Golf, Wii Golf is far too intense and swimming is basically an aquatic lobotomy- I can barely count lengths let alone come up with an original thought.
So I’ve just been running and working on the format for a creative workshop I’m delivering for a very large client. Basically it’s gotta be good. I didn’t have it all worked out but once I got running, all sorts of ideas and new approaches bubbled up to the surface and I ended up with the whole thing mapped out.
In fact, I now use running as a purposeful way of working on my challenges. I don’t just leave it to chance. Before I start, I clearly define in my head what I want to think through or what the specific challenge is. That way, my subconscious mind is primed, ready to do its thing in more of a constructive and less of a madcap way.
The beauty of this thinking method is it actually has real health and fitness benefits. I find my mind is occupied with ideas and not with what my legs are doing. I can relax, my breathing is easier and my legs have a greater spring in them. When feeling ultra inspired, extra miles drift by as I don’t want to stop the ideas flowing.
I think there could even be direct correlation between my waistline and the quality of my ideas. So if you ever see me looking super chunky, do not hire me!
I should add, that walking also works but somehow to a lesser extent for me. I think this is because walking is doesn’t distract your body that much and provides too much opportunity to think with your conscious mind.
Of course, after all the sweatiness, you need to freshen up. This is where the second secret weapon comes into play: the bath. Bathing is a different way of quietening down your conscious voice through pure relaxation and allowing your subconscious to bubble up ideas. I seem to enter a completely new frame of mind as soon as my nipples are submerged!
It seems I’m not the only one. Archimedes knows what I’m talking about. Once upon a time, King Heiro II asked Archimedes to determine whether his crown was made from pure gold or if the goldsmith had deceived him by mixing in lesser value metals. Archimedes knew that if he could test the density of the crown, he could determine whether it contained metals of a lesser density than gold. However, he struggled to find a way of determining the density of such an irregular shape as a crown. Eventually he let it lie and took a bath to relax. Archimedes noticed the bath water rise as he got into the tub and that’s when it happened… he suddenly realised the volume of water displaced matches the density of an object. He could now test the crown. In his delight, Archimedes ran naked through the streets shouting Eureka.
In fact, I actually have a waterproof diver’s notepad that I take to the bath with me. I fully recommend one for yourself if you are a bath or shower thinker. I can now jot down notes and ideas as they come to mind. And no more running through the streets naked for me.