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Sometimes, try as you might, it’s impossible to focus on the task at hand. When you can’t focus, one alternative is to accept the mental roadblock and actively look for another time (perhaps an unconventional one) where you can shift the activity and your creative energy.

At dinner recently, we had a very specific business topic (that had been hanging for a while) we were supposed to address. With little opportunity to prepare that day, I offered an idea intended to fit within the various strategic constraints we faced. While it sort of worked amid the constraints, I woke up that night realizing it wouldn’t work in practice for a whole variety of reasons.

Next morning, I alerted the person looking for input that more work needed to be done. Yet, I still didn’t have any better alternatives.

Lo and behold, enduring a flight delay one day later when the pressure to “think” about this specific issue wasn’t top of mind, a very innovative solution came to me in about 5 minutes.

Why hadn’t I been able to come up with a creative answer at dinner two nights earlier? I have no idea.

But I do know at times our mental capabilities aren’t up to the specific demands we might need to place on them. Much of what’s on Brainzooming is intended to help you function more innovatively in these situations. These techniques aren’t always going to work though.

For these other instances when your brain isn’t zooming, often the best thing you can do is manage time expectations and pray for creative inspiration to hit you ASAP, or at least when you least expect it. – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2 Responses to “Thinking at Unexpected Times”

  1. Marigo Raftopoulos says:

    I find that some of my best ideas have come after I have let go of the anxiety to find an answer asap.

    There is a lot to be gained by allowing emergence and serendipity to enter the process as key players in the game of idea generation. I find that immersing myself in divergent activities allows ideas to come from weird, wonderful and unexpected places.

  2. Mike Brown says:

    Marigo – The luxury of time provides more opportunity for non-related inputs to sneak in to your ideation. It's a challenge when you've got to come up with ideas right away. That's where at least changing locations can help spur a new way of thinking.

    Thanks for your insight!

    Mike