3 Ways a Shower Can Cure Writer’s Block

ON NOWBy: Pam Rossow

Suffering from an intense bout of writer’s block? Have you changed your location, played ambient sounds, and still don’t have ideas? It’s time for an intervention. Strip off your clothes. Get to it.

Researchers have discovered there’s something about showering that helps your mind disengage and allows it to come up with creative ideas and solutions.

According to Shelley H. Carson, a psychologist and Harvard researcher, a distraction can be a needed cognitive break that helps your mind stop fixating on solutions that won’t work.[i] A shower is one type of brain timeout that is probably already part of your daily routine.

The following are three ways a shower jumpstarts the creative process:

Daydreaming

Like daydreaming, taking a shower relaxes the prefrontal cortex which is your brain’s command center for behavior, goals, and decision making.

As part of this relaxation, alpha waves are released that ripple throughout your brain just like when you’re spacing out looking up at the clouds or meditating.

Alphas are part of your brain’s daydreaming setting and they can spark creativity. Along with alphas, dopamine is released.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with creative thought and is triggered in response to feeling good like taking a shower, exercising, or driving home from work.

Safety

There’s something about being the shower in an enclosed, small space that makes you feel safe. Safe enough to take your clothes off!

It might even be the only time in your day that you have time alone and can escape outside stresses. If you’re a busy mom of little ones, you know this is true!

When you feel relaxed, your brain can journey inward and you can make connections without even realizing it until the light bulb turns on and your great ideas surface.

The warm water and comforting shower space lends enough distraction that your brain goes on a little vacay. This permits your subconscious to kick in and work on the problem or roadblock.

Showering is a form of mindfulness in which you are engaged but not bored and the five to ten minutes is long enough for you to experience uninterrupted thought.

Physically removing yourself from your cell phone or computer can be just enough time for your mind to arrive at a brilliant insight. The answer has probably been there the whole time. You just couldn’t quite tap into it.

So the next time you are stumped, take a shower. If the shower is your best thinking space, you may want to invest in a showerproof notepad and pencil so you can jot down ideas as they arrive. Check out this inexpensive solution.

If showering is out of the question, head outside on your lunch break and spend some time daydreaming while looking up at the clouds. It has a similar effect and can be just as refreshing.

What’s your favorite way to come up with new ideas when you feel stuck? Comment below and check out my Instagram @pamrossow. I post weekly Insta Stories to help you write better and/or boost productivity for creatives.

[i] https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2012/02/27/when-being-distracted-good-thing/1AYWPlDplqluMEPrWHe5sL/story.html

 

3 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Improve Your Productivity

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By: Pam Rossow

You are probably familiar with procrastination otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. Maybe, reading this article is procrastinating because you shouldn’t be on social media right now and you should be doing something else. Oops.

Anyway, you’re here so you might as well learn strategies to slash procrastination and get you back to what you need to be doing faster.

The following are three common distractions and how to eradicate them:

Clash Royale. Your game of choice may be Zelda or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but it doesn’t matter if you can’t stop (won’t stop) playing it. Mine included an unhealthy obsession with getting a Miner, battling arrogant teens in Level 7, upgrading my Royal Giant, and winning Clan Battles.

I have nothing against gaming. I think Switch or Xbox is as awesome as the next person. But, when I allowed Clash to take over, I didn’t read books that inspired me to create. I gave up free time with my loved ones. I became less productive on weekends when I told myself I was “just taking a five minute break” to play. Yeah, right.

So, I quit. I logged out of Game Center on my iPhone, knowing I forgot the password. That was three months ago. Now, I’m reading and finishing a book every week, I have more time to write, and I’m happy about what I’m choosing to do in my spare time.

Wait, I’m not telling you to stop gaming… keep reading.

The Solution:

You don’t have to delete an app like I did if your gaming personality isn’t addictive. Instead, you can try the Pomodoro Technique. This method, created by Francesco Cirillo, involves breaking down work into timed intervals followed by short breaks.

For me, it’s setting a timer on my computer for 20 minutes, writing like crazy with no editing, and then taking a five minute break to check Twitter or take an Instagram photo. Then, back at it.

For you, it could be studying biology for 35 minutes and racing once in Mario Kart. Then, atoms and molecules again.

This strategy works because your brain isn’t overwhelmed by what it perceives to be an exhaustive task. Because it’s only 20 minutes, your brain is like, “Cool, I’ve got this.” You feel rewarded and it keeps work productive and fresh, along with improving attention.

The iPhone. I mean, this distraction is a no-brainer. Any type of handheld, electronic device, whether Android or Apple, is a sexy little thang in the form of a portable minicomputer. Don’t roll your eyes. You know it’s true.

“No, I don’t understand. I’m disciplined and only use my phone when I’m not working.”

Sure you do. That’s why when your kids beg you to push them on the swings at the park you can’t because you’re updating your Twitter status.

“Enjoying the sunshine spending quality time with my kiddos.” #Blessed.

Maybe you’re out to dinner with your significant other and your Caprese salad arrives looking beautimous with fresh mozzarella, intoxicating basil, and ripe tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

“Hold that thought, honey. Just need to take a quick pic.”

The quick photo turns into a not so quick edit in SnapSeed, a few more minutes curating your feed in SneakPeek, uploading the picture in Instagram, writing a caption sultry enough to go with the photo, and finding 30 mind-blowing hashtags before hitting publish.

The Solution:

Ahem. Good thing there’s a quick fix for the phone dilemma. It’s called leave it at home or in your glovebox.

If either remedy causes lightheadedness, then keep your phone in your pocket on silent. You heard me. Pay full attention to the person you are with.

If social media is your life and you must update your account for your brand, practice cell phone etiquette. Inform your company you need five minutes to take the pic and upload it. Then, put the phone away and be in the moment.

Easy tasks. You woke up without hitting snooze nine times, enjoyed your steaming cup of matcha, scanned your inbox, and you’re ready to work. Because you’re organized, your bullet journal spells out your tasks for the day and you dive in.

You’re on it. You select the quickest to-do from the list and smash it. Next quick item, dominated. You’re killing it and you’re feeling accomplished. You continue this way until your stomach starts growling and you realize it’s lunchtime.

No problem. You flit out the door to meet friends at a nearby sandwich shop perfect for Instagram photos. An hour passes and it’s time to get back to work.

You’re sitting at your desk staring at your to-do list with the little check marks when you see the big one, the scary one, the OMG I didn’t start on it yet and it’s due today one. Your computer glares at you. It’s 2:15 PM but that’s okay because you have the afternoon to complete it before your 5 PM deadline.

Then, your email blows up. It’s your boss who wants tomorrow’s assignment today because she’s going out of town. You start freaking out but calm down, reminding yourself that it’s only 2:30 and you have time.

You hustle to finish the assignment your boss asked you for by 3:55. Panic sets in. Your once inspiring bullet journal is staring you down with the assignment you thought you had so much time to focus on. You haven’t begun.

You furiously start on it and slide it into your email as an attachment by 5:03. You only had time for a quick edit, you’re frazzled, and it’s Monday. Welcome to the week.

The Solution:

Start your work day with the big tasks. Your inner I want to feel accomplished right now with the little stuff self will conflict with your nope, get the large assignment done now self. But, knowing is half the battle, so you dive into the monster work load and experience that aha moment when it’s noon and you’re done with the beast.

Throughout the remainder of the day, you can check off the smaller items on your list and celebrate Monday for what it should be:  a fresh start to a productive week.

Along with the above solutions, you may want to check out these bonus tips to keep you on the productive path when distractions threaten to steal your time:

Start – Simplistic but the hardest. Begin right away and enjoy the freedom of getting ahead.

Schedule social media time – Use this method for all of your social accounts and stick to it. Figure out how much time each week you need to map out posts, create graphics, and schedule posts. Then, use daily time slots to accomplish your goals.

Find a location where you can focus – If you work from home, there will be days you’re extra productive sitting at your desk. Other times, you need to take work outside on a beautiful day or to a nearby coffee shop.

Use apps – While technology can seem like an enemy, it can also be a solution. Try Coffitivity for the soothing background sounds of a coffee shop or myNoise.net for unique sounds like the jungle, a ferry boat, or singing bowls. If Google Chrome is your browser, try an extension called Block Site that enables you to block distracting websites.

Everyone deals with procrastination. It doesn’t have to become a rampaging Godzilla, threatening to destroy your every free minute. You’re in control.

What are your favorite tools for sparking productivity and squashing procrastination? Comment below and intrigue me with your ingenuity.