To revive creativity ….. do nothing

Forget your to-do list. Putter around on a weekend afternoon, or finish some mindless task.

Doing something that doesn’t require thought prompts the brain to relax, allowing deeper material from the unconscious to surface along with some creative ideas, according to Carrie Barron, MD, author of The Creativity Cure.

A study in the United Kingdom found that people assigned to a dull activity showed the strongest innovative thinking later. Reported at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Therapy, the study found that boring, monotonous tasks may help workers become better and more creative problem solvers.

“Boredom has always had bad press, but some boredom is possibly good, especially if it gives us the opportunity to daydream,” says study co-author Sandi Mann, of the University of Central Lancashire. “Being able to have that down time when you let your mind wander can be great for creativity.”

The research follows another major study published in 2010 that suggests Americans are becoming less creative. It was conducted by the College of William & Mary’s School of Education. It concludes that Americans’ performance on creativity analyses has been waning for more than 20 years, even as IQ scores are climbing.

One reason may be the increased stimulation technology provides. Smartphones are entertaining us and our minds are wandering less, which could interfere with creative thinking. If we gave ourselves time to become bored, we might recapture creativity.

So sweep the garage, dangle your feet in a pool, or swing in a hammock. Quoted in Health, Dr. Barron says there’s another payoff to boredom. With an open, creative mind-set, happy moments begin.