The Experience
Teach at Jolt

Unlock high-level thinking, take a break | Vitamin J #4

Nina Gordon
May 14, 2020
Unlock high-level thinking with more breaks 👇

When do you have your best ideas? On a run? In the shower? Just as you’re drifting off? Whenever you don’t have a pen? There’s a reason for that. Your brain needs breaks to reach high-level thinking.

If you’re constantly in focus mode your brain stops registering the outside world and allowing ideas to flow. Not taking breaks leads to decision fatigue, which in turn leads to the simplest, easiest decision being made, not always the best. Breaks = less “that’ll do” moments.

Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources and helps you become more creative. Breaks = more “Aha” moments. And when you’re engaging in activities outside of your main focus you can discover new paths, new options and outside-the-box thinking.

TLDR: Give yourself a break.

Read on for this week’s dose of tools, tricks and tips for finding time to take impactful breaks.

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What we've been reading this week:

We'd love to hear how you've been using your breaks. Have you started a new hobby since lockdown started? Completed a great series on Netflix? Cooked a great meal? We're all ears, email nina.gordon@jolt.io to let us know!

Until next week, Ciao!

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So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

Because almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.

Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.

So why do so few of us have creative breaks?

I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...

Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.

And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.

The cognitive load is real, y'all.

But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.

Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.

The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.

Your dreams don't have an expiration date.

Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.

And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.

Here's a challenge for you

Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.

Put airplane mode on for a while. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it.

Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.

When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.


"A spark of inspiration needs an empty cave."

Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.

Taken by over 18,500 people; Calibrated by 100s of tech employees

By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success

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