A good idea can come at any time. This was one of the key things I learned to be creative. I do not even have to be thinking about the thing to which it applies.
The catch was that I had to jot it down right then. I would forget it if I did not. This meant keeping a small notebook handy in different places.
Why This Happens
I did not know this at the time. This works because ideas often come to us during our downtime, when we relax. They come when we shower. They do not come as well when we concentrate, analyze or quantify.
This is what Tori Rodriguez’s article, “Sleepy Brains Think More Freely,” (of Scientific American Mind, May 2012 Issue) tells us. She writes on the research of Mareike Wieth from Albion College. She found:
. . . performance on tasks requiring creative insight was consistently better during [subjects’] non-optimal times of day.
This happens because the:
Less focused cognitive state makes people more susceptible to think about other, seemingly unrelated information.
To Be Creative Means Relaxing
These are the boxes that tell us this info is not important. They tell us what we are looking at does not make sense. They tell us things do not add up. They tell us to discard stuff.
To be creative means relaxing. This allows other parts of our minds to see and make connections. It is what many call “free associating.”
Be Creative Be Practical
This kind of thought happens most during our downtime. As Mareike points out though, this varies for each of us. We need to be practical about this.
This is when we take a break to come back to that tough problem another time. This is when we “sleep on it.” Our minds relax. They “connect the dots.”
That is why we need to write them down now. They do not have a logic that makes them easy to remember. Anything can cause us to lose them. Do not lose yours.
Additional reading: Albion Professor Examines Optimal Time for Creativity