A couple of weeks ago I was struggling with a campaign. My deadline was fast approaching and I wasn’t sure I had any real winners for ideas. So I did what any good writer does for inspiration:
I had been working for hours. I could have stayed chained at my desk, and in addition to concentrating, I could have tried really, really concentrating.
Except, that’s not how my brain works. And science says that’s not how your brain works either.
So how long can we focus before our minds start to wander? This article at Forbes.com suggests the brain functions with high energy for about an hour followed by low-energy periods of about 20 minutes when we’re far less likely maintain focus. Studies vary, but most agree we all enjoy relatively brief periods of energy, and we need a break to remain productive—a real break, not a “just let me check Facebook quick” break.
So off I went for a bike ride on the local rail trail. It was a perfect, warm autumn day. I thought about everything but work and took in the scenery for a bit before returning to the task at hand. Then I started thinking anew, and lo and behold: an idea worth presenting from a perspective I hadn’t considered before.
Thank you, middle-of-the-work-day bike ride!
Look, I work about an eight hour workday like normal people, give or take. But I like to get away from my desk practically every day if I want to remain productive. Like a lot of creatives, my best ideas have come somewhere other than my office: the shower, the car, the driving range, or like last week, riding my bike.
So if you see me during business hours staring blankly out the window, or even smacking a few golf balls or riding my bike—please don’t bother me. I’m working.