Is an Exhausted Brain More Creative?
I recently stumbled upon an article at Inc.com called 6 Surprising Ways to Become More Creative. It got me thinking about how the creative process is affected by internal and external influences. One thing the article suggests is that exhaustion is a catalyst to creativity. But does exhaustion really get your creative juices flowing? Or is the research behind this statement all fluff?
According to the article, optimal productivity is attained when you’re most awake and alert. Morning people do best at dawn, while night owls do better after the sun goes down. “But when it comes to creativity, you should just throw this conventional wisdom out the window.”
Research from the University of British Columbia suggests that being exhausted AND easily distracted can actually be the best combination for creativity. “Creative work calls for being receptive and able to form new pathways and solutions to old problems. When you’re susceptible to more information, you’re that much closer to a new and potentially great idea.”
Now here’s the thing. I’m always exhausted. And I think it’s kind of hard to pigeonhole the creative process into such a simplistic formula. I’m not saying it’s wrong, just that it’s more likely one of many factors that contribute to a person’s creativity level.
It’s not like the staff here at Tingalls Graphic Design can compare our exhausted selves from last Monday to non-exhausted versions of ourselves on the same day — so how do we know which version of us would ultimately be more creative? Plus, “being able to form new solutions to old problems,” AKA problem solving, is done in the frontal lobe of the brain. When the brain is tired, like any muscle, it cannot perform to its full ability. So would an exhausted brain solve problems better? Probably not, although it may be more likely to offer new, less rational solutions. Regarding, “creating new [nural] pathways” in the brain, often referred to as plasticity, this can be accomplished in a multitude of ways — exhaustion being only one possibility.
The fact is that there are a plethora of factors that decide where we’re at as human beings. Our level of creativity can be affected by how we’re we doing physically, emotionally, spiritually, cognitively — not to mention how excited we may or may not be about the particular project we’re working on.
As professionals, there is one thing that that helps us rise above any or all of these factors …
Whether it’s exhaustion, the common cold, or the fact that we just ate too much pasta, our ability to focus is what lifts us into the realm of true creativity. Yes, distraction does sometimes have a place in the creative process, but eventually we need to focus our attention on the task at hand and dive in.
It is focus, not exhaustion, which leads us to creativity on a consistent basis.
No matter what your opinion on how exhaustion affects creativity, your can depend on the team at Tingalls Graphic design to deliver outstanding design and content that’s not only creative, but also supports the goals you have for your company.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a nap …
Since we’re on the subject, here are 33 ways to stay creative!