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Creativity & Ideas Come Best When You Shut Down Your Brain

How did you get your last great idea? If you’re like me, and many others, you get your best ideas during down time.

creativity.pngYou know, gardening, showering, riding a bike, driving, and um, other bathroom activities. :0

SmallBizTrends has a great blog entry with proof of this.

The latest Small Business Monitor report by American Express OPEN says that over one-third of entrepreneurs use down time — time when they are not technically working — to come up with creative ideas for business:

More than one-third of entrepreneurs (35%) report coming up with their best ideas during “down-time”. Male business owners are more than twice as likely as female business owners to come up with their best ideas on the way to work (18% vs. 7%). Women are also more likely than men to wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for their business (70% vs. 56%).

At this time of year I do a lot of gardening. I find that the time spent alone outdoors — just the plants, some red-winged blackbirds, a few moles and me — is prime time for coming up with new ideas. There’s nothing like pulling weeds or deadheading flowers to have new ideas jump into your head as if out of nowhere.

But the ideas are not really coming out of nowhere. Our subconscious and even our conscious minds are at work during down times like gardening. Sometimes down time is the only time we have to actually think about breakthrough ideas or new products or creative approaches. On a typical work day we tend to be occupied with phone calls, answering emails, meetings, writing and other specific tasks, leaving little open time. We may have to get out of the office to have unfettered time for creative thinking.

I couldn’t agree more. 100% of my best, most creative ideas come to me when I’m working out or watering the flowers. What about you?

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5 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. David
    June 9, 2007 at 1:49 pm #

    Jim…I agree. I come up with a lot while I’m driving. I do a lot of traveling.

  2. Jim Kukral
    June 9, 2007 at 3:57 pm #

    I just had one mowing the lawn!

  3. Wallet Rehab - Ways to save money
    June 10, 2007 at 3:58 am #

    Whenever I get stuck, I either take a walk or go to the bathroom! It works to free up those creative “juices!”

  4. Daniel Sitter
    June 10, 2007 at 12:06 pm #

    It’s true. Great entrepreneurs and inventors such as Leonardo DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison experienced many of their most stellar breakthroughs while relaxing or dreaming!

    My own experience confirms this as well. Many of my best ideas occur while driving, walking or resting.

    This concept also supports a widely-taught component of goal setting, whereas you review your goals before going to bed and again upon awakening. The idea is for your brain to subconciously go to work while you conciously “chill” and stay out of the way.

  5. Jim Kukral
    June 10, 2007 at 7:51 pm #


    Ok, I’m game. Tonight before I go to bed I’m going to review my goal of having fun every day. :0