Feeling stuck? Go for a walk...
I’m sure like many of you that have returned to work this week after the jollity of the festive season, I’m struggling to feel productive when sitting in front of my laptop at my desk. My creativity seems to desert me.
I find that most of my best ideas come to me not when sat here looking at the screen but when out and about and often at the most random time. My phone notes are full of snippets of ideas as I endeavour not to forget them by the time I get home.
This is not unique to me, a study from Stanford University by Oppezzo and Schwartz in 2014 found that walking can increase your creative output by 60%.
So next time you’re feeling stuck, get up and move and see what a change of scenery might prompt. And if anyone questions you, show them the science that shows you’ll be much more productive.
I also find that some of the deeper, more insightful conversations I have with friends and family can be when out for a walk or on a long motorway drive. As a coach I see the benefit of walking coaching (weather permitting) as a great way to unlock insights with my clients. A few things are going on here:
As above, walking in itself can help unlock creativity and ability to come up for new ideas
When moving you are being stimulated by a different, changing vista. The act of walking is taking up some brain power but assuming a simple, safe route, your mind is able roam more freely, bringing fresh insight, ideas and connections.
Being alongside one another rather than face to face, allows for reflection and sharing of feelings without the intensity of direct eye contact and fear of seeing judgement from the other person. Pauses feel less uncomfortable. This can lead to an openness and willingness to share not present when seated across from each other
The requirement to have a level of concentration on walking or driving means that you and your conversation partner will (hopefully!) not be being distracted by phones or other distractions, allowing for a deeper level of listening.
So if you’re feeling like me at the start of January or worrying about a difficult problem or conversation, maybe try going for a walk and see what happens.