Switch Tasks To Refresh Your Perspective When Problem Solving

Switch Tasks to Refresh Your Perspective When Problem Solving

While persistence is a great virtue, some types of problems call for solutions that simply can't be developed through grinding. If you find yourself stuck on a problem or creative challenge, switch tasks after 15 minutes to take your conscious mind off it.

Picture: Paul Fisher/Flickr

Social psychologist Ron Friedman writes at Psychology Today:

But the moment we experience ourselves getting stuck, the rules shift. Here, a well-timed distraction can be a boon to creativity.

When we let go of a problem, our perspective expands. This explains why we discover so many solutions in odd places, like the shower, the commute back home, or the visit to the gym. Redirecting our attention to an unrelated task also provides room for incubation, a term psychologists use to describe nonconscious thinking. Studies show that following a brief distraction, people generate more creative solutions to a problem than those who spend the same period of time focusing on it intently.

Mindlessly grinding away at the problem for an extended period of time will likely only frustrate you. It's just not how creativity works. Instead, switch tasks to relax your mind and return to the challenge with a new perspective.

How to Find Creative Insights at Work [Psychology Today]


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