How to create Brain Space in our busy world 🧠
Brain space is that void, that mental space in which your thoughts and ideas take shape, evolve, and grow. Where you achieve clarity and allow yourself to take a breather from work.
Creating space from work is actually a necessity, as this improves your wellbeing and seemingly paradoxically empowers you to do better at the work you are taking a distance from.
A relaxed and spacious mind also allows for new ideas to be explored; with an active, occupied mind we come up with familiar thoughts, more of the same.
When you are able to create space and let your mind wander, when you allow the neural networks to rummage around, it can comb through our huge database that is stored in our brain combining concepts that would otherwise go unrecognized. It allows you to come up with more profound solutions.
Nowadays, few people experience such peace of mind that allows us to feel and think in that way, which is not so strange in our hectic always-on world.
But that doesn't mean it’s impossible.
How to create brain space at work
We should fundamentally change our view of work. Our thinking of having to be productive for 40 hours originates from the time of factory workers in the era of Henry Ford.
In a time of knowledge work and the complex challenges we face, you need and deserve a different approach.
Here are some easy to apply hacks and fundamental habits.
Start the day with your phone on flight mode , turn off notifications, and set e-mail to ‘pull’.
This creates more space for your own thoughts, if you start with your own ideas and have your messages on pull, other people won't take over your thinking space. Try it this evening and set your phone on flight mode, the next morning try to go as long as possible with your phone on flight mode. You can thank me later.
Have fewer meetings.
At companies like Netflix, Gumroad, Automattic, Amazon, and Heineken people find all sorts of ways to have fewer meetings. Through better online documentation, through more autonomy and delegation, or through automation of business processes. When you do have meetings, maybe make them a 1 on 1 walk and talk meeting.
Make time to play.
Play is essential to free the mind. Here is one fine example of how it works.
You might have heard of Claude Shannon, who is best known for developing the mathematical foundations of communication (establishing the field of information theory), data compression, digital computers, cryptography, circuit complexity, flow networks, as well as laying foundations for artificial intelligence and human–computer interaction.
He created brain space through unicycling and juggling. Almost all highly creative innovators have playful hobbies that help them create space and let their mind wander.
Go into nature.
Going for a walk through nature can be beneficial to the mind and body. It lowers your heart rate, blood pressure, reduces stress hormone production in the brain which helps create a clear mind.
Meditate, do Yoga, Sports.
Meditation can also help to create clarity. Online mind-body skills training is associated with acute improvements in stress, mindfulness, and cognitive flexibility.
Yoga is also a great way to create brain space.
Did you know Yoga has the ability to ‘reverse’ DNA reactions caused by stress?
Actually, any type of sport that makes you feel better, you should do more of it.
I don’t have space for such hacks and fundamentals in my work.
You might be thinking, the above is impossible in my work environment. You can’t take a stroll in nature, have fewer meetings, let alone start with your phone on flight mode.
We encounter this way of thinking a lot. Although many modern companies already include the above in their ways of working. Please also remember you have more power than you think.
Let’s first define what you need as an individual and also what your team needs.
Just ask the following questions:
- What is going well?
- What can we improve?
- How would you sculpt your ideal life?
You’ll find that many people have the same kind of needs which are often unfulfilled. From my experience, the lack of brain space is often high on this list. So why don’t we fix that together?
After defining our needs our next step is to make decisions (together) that iterate towards our desired goals and towards working in the best, most spacious way possible. —It’s an invitation to join the realm of possibilities.
With some of our clients we decided on no meetings Wednesdays, we also document more insights and decisions digitally. Creating more time to explore and enabling space to think. People also rediscovered their need for time away from work.
Be aware to not fill up all your time again with other tasks, the intent is to create brain space.
Start with creating more brain space today.
We need brain space to really think, to process what we have been doing, to come up with ideas and solutions that really matter.
The benefits of creating space are clear. Get in sync with yourself and with your team on how you want to create more brain space.
For more clarity and happiness, but also for a higher creative and innovative output.
Wishing you happy mental wandering, clarity, and optimal creativity.
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