A Diversity Journey

A Diversity Journey


Creativity HivePosted by Amela Koluder Fri, June 09, 2017 16:12:49

How to trigger the uncontrolled, creative thinking?
Be tired. Walk. Do simple activities. But first of all engage with passion in collecting and analyzing data.

Creativity is equally magical and frustrating. Creating something of value requires hard work from two contrasting thinking states: controlled and uncontrolled.

While you are gathering information, and thinking of ideas consciously, you are also feeding your unconscious. The more effort you put, the harder your brains will work. And you want your unconscious mind to be involved - it processes data 500.000 times faster than your conscious mind.

We have two modes of thinking:

1. the cognitive mode - creating focused, controlled thinking
2. the default mode - mind wandering, (day) dreaming, free association, intuition and sensation

The default mode - uncontrolled thought is triggered when the cognitive control shuts down or relaxes. The most obvious example of this is dreams. Most of us do not remember our dreams, but we can all remember that we have been dreaming.

How to trigger the uncontrolled, creative thinking?

Be tired.

Research has shown that a tired mind is often a more creative mind. It may sound counter-intuitive, but early birds should try solving problems late at night, while night owls should attempt to come up with solutions early in the morning.

The best time for “great, new ideas” is the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, occurring before being fully awake and just before you are about to drop off to sleep.

Edison famously tried to tap into this “Twilight Zone” with metal balls: he would sit upright in a chair and take a nap while holding a large metal ball in each hand. Once asleep, the balls would drop out of his hands and startle him awake, and he would immediately write down what was in his mind at the time.

Do something simple.

Simple activities that do not demand much thinking are very good for triggering creative insight, for instance while doing the dishes, walking, taking a shower, and driving home from work.

Einstein would work hard on a problem for a couple of hours and then stop to play the violin. Playing a piece, he knew well would require little conscious effort allowing his mind to wander and ideas to arise. By his account, “The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition.”

While doing simple activities, your controlled thinking takes its foot off the gas, making room for your uncontrolled thinking and allowing your mind to wander.


Many of history’s great creatives used to walk while solving challenges, including Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Freud, Milton, Dickens and Darwin. Steve Jobs was famous for holding meetings while he was walking and Mark Zuckerberg is now following in his footsteps.

Dr. Oppezzo and Schwartz, professors at Stanford University, have compared the levels of creativity in people while walking and sitting. Their research showed that their creative output increased by 60% when they were walking.

No creativity without relevant insight and analytic effort

New, creative thoughts and solutions will not come if you haven’t previously put in the conscious effort into the subject. But if you have and you are patient, you will be rewarded with a gift from your unconscious.

As the painter Joan Miró said,

“I work better when I am not working than when I am.”