I have this week returned to work after a month off. I don’t recall ever having that long away from work, so I decided to do as much as possible in that time. While I was away I spent the time off pushing as much into those weeks as I could! We walked a total of 167km in just over 3 weeks, we visited 5 countries and we made an attempt to be able to speak basic (and mostly very poor) versions of 3 new languages. We celebrated New Years in Paris while learning about the massive impact Napolean had during his reign, we admired Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel and ate what I think has to be the world’s best pizza. We drank beer (which I still hate!) in Berlin while for the first time really starting to understand the impact that the Berlin wall had on the city, and finished the trip watching the snow fall on the picturesque city of Prague and realizing that a governments decisions can so greatly change a countries economies. We got back mentally & physically exhausted!
Fortunately, in a stroke of brilliance I had planned a week of good old Aussie summer in a cabin by the beach for the week of our return to help us recuperate, thaw out & get over our jetlag before returning to work.
I was sitting on the deck in the afternoon breeze, listening to the waves crashing on the beach next to our cabin, smelling the salty sea air and drinking an ice cold cider when my mind began to wander… I was pondering the year that had past and thinking about the year ahead. Suddenly my brain kicked into gear! The ideas and excitement for what 2013 could hold came flowing and the solution to something I had been slowly processing for months was suddenly blatantly obvious.
It turns out that the human brain has many different ways of working. And when we are stressed or doing so many things at once, it starts to run in a very experiential mode where all senses are focused on what is happening around us then and there. However, when we do stop and let our mind wander what neuroscientists refer to as the “default mode network” kicks in. This mode is one that is linked to creativity and insight and only works when we allow our brain to “zone out”.
As startup founders we often have so many things happening at once it is incredibly difficult to stop and step back and take time out. Fortunately, you don’t need a week on the beach to get access to this little powerhouse of creative thought. All you need is to allow your brain to wander, to daydream, to think about the future or remember past memories and let it drift away. Meditation is a popular way to practice this and this article gives some other interesting ideas on ways to boost your productivity by resting your brain.
So my suggestion to you is to take some time this long weekend to stop, take some time out and let your mind wander. It might just be the best thing you do for your business this year.