How to ‘reboot’ your creative brain and refresh your focus in 15 minutes or less

Change your brain, change your life. If you want to be in control of your life, control the command center of your body.

In today’s information-obsessed world, our minds are in constant overdrive.

Your brain is a living, inventive, and rapidly renewing organ that needs all the care and maintenance it needs to function well and deliver every day.

Brain recharge can help you recalibrate your energy for better focus, creativity and resilience.

Harold Kushener once said, “Think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.”

We can adapt this to making the most of our brains; the further we get into understanding and recharging our brains, the more it works better, and thus comes our creativity.

Change your brain, change your life. If you want to be in control of your life, control the command center of your body.

Start and stick to a routine

In Your Brain at Work, David Rock, said, “One final insight about prioritizing involves getting disciplined about what you don’t put on the stage. This means not thinking when you don’t have to, becoming disciplined about not paying attention to non-urgent tasks unless, or until, it’s truly essential that you do.”

Most of us need structure to be able to work effectively.

Getting up early, finding a routine and setting yourself deadlines will do wonders for your productivity, and will let you create your best work.

Discipline however doesn’t mean working 9 to 5.

There are no set rules for being creative or productive.

Balzak used to work during the night having consumed 30 cups of coffee.

Mozart meticulously counted out 60 beans for his morning coffee every day.

Hemingway rose at 5:30 am before working until his midday Martini and writer Tony Schwartz used to set his timer for 90 minutes, focussing intently for an hour and a half before taking a lengthy break.

There is no “right” way to structure your day, but one common thread is that many of the greatest creative minds had strict daily habits.

Find what works best for you and try to stick to it.

Give yourself something to pursue

When you invest time and attention in a creative pursuit, you provide your mind with a much-needed escape from your day-to-day stressors.

You jump into a creative, fulfilling and meaningful journey that has no pressures, deadlines, or rules, and provide your mind with a chance to recharge, every time make time for it.

You become unstoppable.

Tom Path, author of “Are You Fully Charged” said “The odds of being completely engaged in your job increases by 250% if you work on meaningful projects each day.”

Whether you’re into writing, painting, photography, or any kind of craft, investing time in a creative hobby is a fantastic way to supercharge your brain.

When you pursue something, you are not sitting around idly waiting for something to happen or to come along.

You run hard and sometimes even fight to pursue. You fight for a life that means something to you.

Life is too short and too precious to NOT pursue something that brings out the best in you.

Tim O’Reilly made a profound statement about pursuing something meaningful.

He once said: “Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.”

Start with something you can do today or this week, even if you can commit a few minutes to it. And tomorrow, do it again. Maybe for a few more minutes. And so on.

And when you pick a project, your goal should be meaningfulness. Focus on those things that make your life more significant and worthwhile. The by-product of pursuing a meaningful project is happiness.

Be prolific

As children we’re much less self-critical of our creativity.

Kids will happily experiment with ideas, pictures, drawings and doodles without any fear that it’s not 100% perfect.

Worrying yourself to death or painstakingly creating a concept before abandoning it — even for the smallest fault — can be a paralysing way to work.

By throwing yourself into every idea, you can work through and find solutions that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of had you spent days agonising over a concept.

In “Body of Work: Finding the Thread that Ties Your Career Together,” Pamela Slim says:“We are made to create. We feel useful when we create. We release our ‘stuckness’ when we create. We reinvent our lives, tell new stories, and rebuild communities when we create. We reclaim our esteem, our muse, and our hope when we create.”

If you can accept some failures and don’t always strive for perfection, you really increase your chances of producing something amazing and will find yourself constantly learning new things.

Picasso made 50,000 works of art in his life. Mozart composed over 600 pieces in his lifetime. Charles Schulzmade 17,897 Charlie Brown strips before he died.
Many great writers and artists create their master works, and then are done. Others, are more prolific throughout their productive years.

Being prolific brings out the best in you but it’s not a requirement to to be an artist. Through practice and vulnerability, the creative genius in you will be revealed.

Embrace disciplined consumption

Consume everything relevant to your career. Read, watch films, search for inspiration on the internet, check out the work of those famous and obscure in your field, and absorb absolutely everything.

While people can understandably worry that this as a habit could make their work derivative, often-original ideas can be sparked by your unique reaction to the work of others.

By being interested and engaged in the world, the chances are that your work will reflect this passion and become more interesting and engaging for other people.

While it’s never a good idea to conduct blatant plagiarism, your great creative idea could be hiding in someone else’s project.

Inspiration is often found in the works of others arguably all thought and creative ideas are influenced by others.

Where would Plato and Aristotle be without Socrates!

Take purposeful walks/naps

Creative thought activates alpha-brain waves that helps trigger an idea with minimal conscious thought.

Professor Jonathan Schooler from the University of California has studied brain wave activity during the creative process.

He found that doing something different from sitting at a desk allows these unconscious thoughts to take hold.

Both Beethoven and Tchaikovsky firmly believed that taking a two-hour walk every day helped them with their musical composition.

Taking a break from distraction and the constant bleeps, bings and boings from our various devices, can allow our brains to relax and innovation to slowly bubble to the surface.

Walking in a green space, allowing your mind to wander, restores directed attention quickly and effectively.

Napping improves mental capacity. It increases serotonin levels which puts you in a better mood and increases performance.

For a boost of alertness, experts advise a 10- to 20-minute nap is suitable to restore brain activity and heighten procedural memory.

Challenge your brain

Physical and mental activities are the most reliable ways to boost neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons in the brain).

Physical exercise boosts the brain’s rate of neurogenesis, while mental exercise increases the rate at which those new brain cells survive and form connections.

The neurons you produce during adulthood are especially good at learning and memory, but you have to use them or else you will lose them.

If you aren’t challenging your brain, many of the new neurons it has created will die off within a few months.

Mental activity should be regular, reasonably complex, and varied — doing the odd crossword or Sudoku puzzle is not enough.

Your mental activity should involve learning something NEW!

And it should also be something you enjoy so you stick at it!

Before you go …

Oppong is the founder @Alltopstartups. Curator at postanly.com, Columnist at Inc. Magazine. Featured at Business Insider, Quartz, CNBC, Entrepreneur, HuffPost, etc.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is reprinted with permission.