Harnessing Bathroom Brilliance

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by Lynda Bourne

Do really good ideas pop into your mind at the most inconvenient moments, like when you’re in the middle of taking a shower? This flash of bathroom brilliance presents two problems:

  • There’s no one to share it with (at least in our home).
  • There’s no practical way to record it (unless you take a wax crayon into the shower every day).

And typically, that flash of brilliance fades quickly and can be very difficult to reconstruct even a few minutes later. That may explain why Archimedes went running naked down the street shouting “Eureka!” following his flash of bathroom brilliance. This occurred when he discovered the relationship between volume and mass (density/buoyancy) by observing the change in water level as he entered his bath.

How can we unleash this kind of innate creativity on a regular basis and not just in the bathroom?

While everyone is different, there seems to be three key elements to being creative:

  1. Make sure you understand what needs to be solved. Most people jump straight into solution mode. Creative people spend the time needed to define and understand the problem without trying to impose a solution.
     
  2. Sleep on it. Allow time for your subconscious to work on the problem. It may take one or two weeks. This does not mean forgetting it, however. Set up reminders to keep prodding your creative ideas toward a resolution, whether they are notes you look at a couple of times a day, or a whiteboard with the issue drawn or sketched out. Adding notes and possible concepts keeps your subconscious focused. Remember: You need to stay relaxed and open during this period — stress kills creativity.

 

  1. Make room for quiet time in your day. This allows flashes of brilliance to move from the subconscious into your conscious mind. The key seems to be doing some enjoyable function such as showering or walking, where 90 percent of what you’re doing is automatic and run by your subconscious brain. At the same time, stop worrying about other things, so your conscious mind is just being present.

    Then you have the real problem: finding a way to capture the ideas before they fade back into your subconscious. Carrying around a notebook or downloading a recording function on your smartphone can work if you are enjoying a pleasant stroll through a park.

Now, think about your teams and how you work with them to develop creative solutions. Do you call them into a room, dump the problem on them, demand a brainstorming session right there and then wonder why it doesn’t work? Or, do you socialize the problem first, ask people to think about it and discuss it with each other offline, and then call the meeting to see what’s been developed? 

Creativity needs space, time and freedom from pressure. This is the antithesis of most modern work environments where people work in a high-pressure job and are constantly inundated with a stream of “stuff” via technology.

How can you make the time to be relaxed, creative and successful? 

Posted by Lynda Bourne on: June 07, 2018 05:41 PM | Permalink

Comments (17)

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Good article, Lynda!

If you buy into Daniel Pink's assertions in his latest book, When, you'd also want to know when the right time is for your team members to be their most creative...

Kiron

Very good one Lynda, I usually follow "Allow time for your subconscious to work on the problem, and sleep on it.

Nice article Lynda...

I heard from elders on Indian religious sayings that "we should eat once and bath thrice a day"... May be to frequently switch to creativity mode...

Thanks for sharing...

Interesting article !!

Thanks a lot Lynda..

Thanks for the comments - thinking through some of the suggestions about timing and bathing perhaps a 'hot-tub' could become standard equipment in a project 'war-room' :-)

I think aside from the room layout, attention should be given to the temperature, smell, sounds (or lack of them), and non-allergic furniture/fixtures would help.

Good article Lynda!

Thanks for the ideas, will need to be more intentional about just thinking creatively.

Thanks for sharing Lynda!!

So true really enjoyed it thanks for sharing

Very interesting Laura, thanks

Very nice, reminds me to Rowan Gibson's key note in PMI EMEA 2018 congress

what a nice clean neat article!
great reminders!
very usable...and a much appreciated boost to my lagging creativity and problem solving.

As great as simple, Lynda...I always find my best ideas while I'm running ...

As great as simple, Lynda...I always find my best ideas while I'm running ...

Nice share.. subconscious mind is the greatest source of creativity..we just need to activate it with right ambience..

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