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Surprising Science

Sometimes, Fatigue Can Help Spark Creativity

When should you take time to brainstorm? When you’re fatigued. The creative spark tends to hit when your brain is tired and unable to filter those weird ideas.

Moments of brilliance often come in the night when the fatigue has set in — you lazily jot down your thought then wake the next morning to find a million-dollar idea or utter gibberish. Melissa Dahl discusses these fatigued musings in her article for NYMag, highlighting an interview with Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work.

The entirety of the interview can be listened to at Harvard Business Review. In it he discussed how our fatigued brains are less capable of filtering out all the weird stuff, like we are during the day.

He explains:

“And it’s partly because, in order to be creative, sometimes you need to consider some ideas that don’t necessarily feel like they’re on track with what you’re trying to achieve. And so having all these ideas come into your mind because you’re not quite as good at putting them off when you’re tired can actually make you more creative.”

Friedman says you don’t necessarily need to deprive yourself of sleep in order to get these brilliant ideas; just changing the routine of your day can help. He suggests finding that time during the day when you’re tired and less-focused — to box off that time for creative brainstorming.

Another suggestion to spark the creative fuse is to try an exercise in boredom. Manoush Zomorodi, the host of WNYC’s New Tech City, has been taking time away from tech to re-acquaint herself with being bored. She believes that smartphones are bogging down our brain’s natural process to wander when we aren’t being entertained.

Listen to the entire interview at Harvard Business Review.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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