What gets your brain going?


Today was my jogging day. This means that I leave work promptly at 4:30 with my lame mismatched mom exercise clothes and head out to the nearby park between work and my daughter’s day care. I do a 20-25 minute jog, followed by some quick stretches before jumping back in the car to battle traffic and day care parking spots.

It was hard to motivate today- I’ll be honest. We woke up to 2 inches of snow and 25 degree weather. (Granted, it was sunny and 45 by now…) I was tired and defeated from not getting one of my main project pieces done at work. I was exhausted from email correspondence… it had been especially trying today. Did I want to jog in that moment? NO. Did I know that it would make me so much happier to do it? YES. Did I think I might be mad at myself for not doing it? YES. So, I put on my big girl pants and jogged old lady style. (I’m very slow. A speed walker passed me 2 weeks ago while I was jogging. True story.)

Within 7 minutes of my jog, my mind was racing. It was like the blood flowing, fresh air, and great movement just kicked my brain into overdrive. I had so many thoughts- both work and personal- that I couldn’t keep up. It was amazing. I have always known that I have the most ideas and creative thoughts when I’m moving (in a car, on a walk, on a jog, or even in a bus)… but this was awesome! I felt like I had awakened a deep lost brain cavity that was craving some endorphins and finally had it. My ideas included things like:

* Hubby and I should make Facebook pages for our blogs to get them out there to our friends
* I think part of my job at work is to read, digest, and distribute personal and professional development information appropriately to people (and then about 3 thoughts that branched from that)
* I should take my staff to the new exhibit at the Science museum as a reward activity. That is cooler than a Starbucks card/run.
* How does the book, Disney U, apply to my personal life? That could be fascinating…
* I bet I could tie the RSA animate video about Dan Pink’s book, Drive, into a cool blog post and activity in a training class.
* We should all take more advantage of our work and personal locations. There is so much to explore in every area. How many years did I live near this park and work here and never jog here? Silly!
* Strategies for being a personal ‘filter’ for all of the information overload out there… both personally and professionally

And on, and on,… so much that I couldn’t keep up. I started thinking that I should have a treadmill as a desk, or at least walk and take verbal notes in my workplace. I read article after article that talks about the benefits of exercise and movement, but this was the best example I had to date. I pulled out my phone and frantically started taking voice memos to remember as much as I could. I knew (from past experiences), that the minute I stopped moving… the ideas would settle back into that sleepy, dark brain cavity.

It got me thinking about Jumping Bean, my nearly three year old and how she behaves after two distinctly different types of activities: Put her in front of the TV, and you see a blank, staring face. Turn it off, and it’s like she doesn’t know how to interact or think straight for 6 minutes. She stares, and then speaks in tongues for a bit before coming back to “being her.”

Stick that girl on her little home-made trampoline or riding with me in the car… and she can tell you stories that would beat out some classic fairy tales. Today in the car, she explained how she could fix a roof “by getting a ladder, climbing up, and getting my tools. I use a screwdriver and put on paper, then paint, then mud, and then we jump on it until it’s fixed.” Um… ok. She also proceeded to let me know that “cheese, paint, tools, and candy can fix walls.” OH, and did you know that “doors don’t ever break”? Yeah…..

Point is – there is an activity that each of us can do (or maybe even a few different things) that can get your brain moving and thinking creatively. Sometimes it’s as easy as changing your location or setting. Other times, it’s getting outside, looking at art, actually creating art, playing music, going to a new place to eat, meeting someone new, doing something scary, trying new foods, cooking, cleaning a room in your house, and so on. You might already know what that activity is, because it makes you “happy and energized”, but you had never thought it might be something that actually helps your brain find a solution to some other problems at work or home. USE IT for that! Bring art to work, or take a long lunch to be outside or to cook a treat. If you are able to create some amazing work solutions at 10pm on a Wednesday night… USE IT! If you are dead to the world at your desk at 2pm on Thursday… then give yourself a break and know that you brain needs a change of scenery.

> Think about work and personal time differently from time to time.

Give yourself a break, and challenge yourself to take part in that activity that inspires and excites your brain. Today, I thought it was pretty strange and awesome that about 3/4’s of the day’s good ideas were created in a 25 minute time block. THAT was a good 25 minutes.

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