Creativity and Taking Breaks

So here’s the scenario: you are asked to solve two problems that require creative thinking. What approach do you take to get the best results?

  • Break up the time in two separate intervals, solve one problem, and ultimately move onto the second.
  • At regular, predetermined intervals alternate between the two problems.
  • Or ping pong between the two problems at your discretion.

Harvard Business Review posed this scenario to hundreds of people and found that most would choose to switch between the two problems at their discretion.

But if coming up with creative answers, is your goal, this approach, according to their research, may produce less desirable results.

Here’s why: When attempting problems that require creativity, we often reach a dead creative end without realizing it. Their research found that regularly switching back and forth between two tasks at a set interval can reset your thinking, enabling you to approach each task from fresh angles and creativity. Other studies have found that brief breaks during idea generation can increase creativity and the variety of ideas generated.

Try it out! The next time you’re working on tasks that require some creative thinking, consciously insert breaks at regular intervals. Remember, if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel like you’re in the zone, be mindful that it might be a false impression.

Take breaks, your creative juices will thank you.