How Brakes and Pauses can Fuel Creativity

This is what I thought until a little time back when I discovered that there is a kind of interruption that can be good instead of bad. Towards the end of this article, you will actually feel that all this is right and that it is nothing rocket science; purely common sense that the interruptions mentioned can actually have a good effect on creativity.

Creative people hate interruptions the most. They think that are only a few things that are more frustrating than having the attention diverted right when you are in the middle of a deep creative phase. These can be the interruptions that come from someone dropping by to have a word with you, a phone call or an e-mail you just cannot avoid. Whatever the situation, your concentration is lost and it will take time to pick up that thread of thought again. You would think that interruptions in your work will make you lose the train of thought and will take you double the time. Moreover, people would also think that interruptions are a waste of time.

There is scientific evidence to support the fact that interruptions cause loss of concentration. ‘Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information’. This is what some of the most reliable sources had to say about this case. So it settles that focus on work and interruptions don’t go together.

Interruptions Can Cure Backache:

Creativity - Interruptions Can Cure Backache
Interruptions Can Cure Backache

You may have heard of many people who have desk jobs to be suffering from a back ache. Even you might be a victim of that. This is most probably because of working on the laptop for long hours or hunching over books. Reverse Therapy reveals that this is subtle message from the body to not let it worked up too much but there are not many people who take this message very well and they continue working in the same manner.

This back pain is caused not by working on the computer but from hunching over it for hours and that is certainly what nature wants you to do. Expert physicians say that stretching every few minutes and taking a short break every ten minutes is the best way to get rid of back pain. But this suggestion is hard to put into action.

No matter if you think you are self-disciplined, once you start working, hours can pass with you concentrating on the computer, becoming aware of your surroundings only when your back starts hurting. And it’s not like you were having a ‘creative flow’ during all that time.

There is software called AntiRSI and according to its description: AntiRSI schedules unobtrusive 13 second pauses every four minutes. Likewise break happen every 50 minutes, and last for 8 minutes. The software is basically designed to help people working a lot on the computer to learn to maintain a balance between the factors which can lead to tension and hence back pain. However, its results also showed how it can be used to help in the flow of creativity. And that’s exactly through these pauses that a mind is able to bring the best out of it without stressing it out.

We talked to a person who suffered from the same problem and who had started using AntiRSI. He told us that at first he thought the pauses are coming every few seconds instead of four minutes, that’s how much he got immersed in his work. He also told us that as time passed, he stopped getting annoyed at the pauses and got used to it, in fact, started looking forward to them. After two weeks of use, he started to feel a positive change in his functioning and surroundings as he started to have a balance between his work and relaxation.

Interruptions Help the Creative Flow:

Interruptions Help the Creative Flow
Interruptions Help the Creative Flow

Now coming to the point which we started, can interruptions really help the creative flow? Once you start getting used to the interruptions and pauses, you will also start noticing a good effect on your work. Each time you pause to stretch and look up, your concentration sharpens. One would think how messages blinking on the screen can and asking you to stop can help in your creative thinking!

I think the answer lies in Csikszentmihalyi’s study of flow. According to him, there is a balance between challenges and skills. This is what software like AntiRSI do. They don’t let you get stuck into a state where you start tensing up without realizing and allow you to balance effort and relaxation to stay in the flow.

Switching from one task to the other can be highly possible reason of losing concentration from creativity. This is a scientific research which tells that answering an email or writing a report in the middle of your work can have a negative effect, however, the pauses caused by AntiRSI lets your mind take a break from the compulsive state of mind, without letting you lose the creative flow you’re having and you can pick up the thread from where you left it. These ‘micro-pauses’ are like stopping and reconnecting with the surroundings which will have a healthy effect on your brain and you will be able to think better.

Using Interruptions to Stay in the Creative Flow:

Using Interruptions to Stay in the Creative Flow
Using Interruptions to Stay in the Creative Flow

The tips mentioned below are from the experience of using AntiRSI. However, you can use other pause inducing features to add them in your work. The other means of creating ‘pause prompts’ can be something as simple as an automatic chimer or alarm. There is software called WordRave which PC users can use in place of AniRSI.

  • It is always best to not rely on your self-discipline in this regard and set up an automatically timed ‘pause prompts’.
  • Now as to what you should actually do when the timer goes off. Don’t start checking some e-mail or anything, pause from your work. Look up and around, take a breath, stretch your arms and let the sensations flow through your body.
  • When the timer goes off for a ten minute break, get up from your desk and do something that involves physical activity. Take a short walk around the room or even go outside and have some fresh air. You can also use this time for some exercise and in that way you will be able to mange to keep yourself physically fit in your otherwise busy schedule.

Final Words:

It’s not only the software which can help you to make a habit of having interruptions in your work. You can make yourself do it by just a little will power and you will start noticing positive effects not only physically but also on your work. Interruptions basically mean that your mind gets refreshed and so instead of losing a train of thought, it comes more refreshed. All you need to do is waiting and get used to it and then you will see a lot of positive energy in and around you. Of course there might be other ways of improving creativity and getting the best out of it but having interruptions is one of the tried and tested ones.

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