Give it a rest. Drudging along can be helpful in cranking out analytic tasks that require plenty of focus (think: number crunching), as your inhibition keeps you “on task.” But studies show that you may be more apt to think creatively during the time of day you’re least likely to be productive—or when you’re most likely to get distracted.
Distractions may trigger thoughts or ideas that lead to a novel approach to solving the problem at hand, says Mareike Wieth, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychological science at Albion College.
The takeaway: Don’t be afraid to sleep on it, hit the gym, or take that coffee break—all of which could lead to the answer you were looking for in the first place.
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