You know all those times you sit at your desk, staring at your monitor, begging your brain for a breakthrough idea? Yeah, that's not working. If you want inspiration, get away from your desk. Photo by Toms Baugis.
Your desk is designed to be a place where you filter out the outside world and get things done. The mindsets and habits you build at your desk are perfectly suited to being productive, but they're the exact antithesis of what you need when it's time to be creative. Creativity demands a lot of external stimulus and time to process. Your desk offers neither of these things. If you want to get the ideas flowing, you need to get away.
Harvard psychologist Dr Shelly Carson suggests having a strict boundary between your brainstorming space (which she calls an "absorb state") and your work space (or "synthesis state"). When you have a dedicated space for receiving input and coming up with ideas, it's easier for your brain to get into that mode when it needs to:
Everyone has a built-in censoring system that filters thoughts and stimuli from the outside world before they reach conscious awareness.
Learning to loosen up this mental filtering to allow more novel ideas to flow through is one of the biggest challenges for people who don't think of themselves as creative.
Creativity isn't something you can command on demand, but it is something you can tend to, much like a garden. By giving your brain a space to be creative, you can nurture idea growth in a way you just can't accomplish sitting at your desk and staring at a screen.