“80% of employees around the world say they have to shut off their minds to get through work. They just see work as a commute to the weekend”.

This was one of London Business School Professor Daniel Cable’s findings in his research on organisational behaviour.

However, here are three ideas to help you and your people to feel more alive at work. They might be things you’ve never even thought of…

1) The Power of the Shower

Standing under a hot stream of water is one of the best ways of increasing your creativity. Why? It’s a task that you undertake every day, and so your brain does not need to spend energy focusing on it, allowing room for other thoughts. Scientists call this ‘The Default Mode Network’ (DMN). As psychologist John Kounios describes it, “you become less aware of your environment and more aware of your internal thoughts”. Indeed, 72% of respondents to a study admitted that they had some form of creative ‘insight’ in the shower! Even Richard Branson confessed that his best ideas are created in the bath.

So, next time you’re in the shower, don’t just have a good scrub and rinse – just relax and let your thoughts take over.

2) Thinking outside the box and putting two and two together (literally)

102 New York University students undertook a creativity experiment around ‘acting out metaphors’. Whilst half were sat inside or outside a cardboard box (big enough for a human with no claustrophobia), all participants were asked to think of a word (‘jump’, for example) that connected to three clue words they were shown (‘long’, ‘suit’, ‘start’). The outcome? Those outside the box came up with over 20% more solutions than those inside the box.

So literally thinking outside the box can help you to think outside the box!

In another experiment by the same students, half of the participants were instructed to fit together two halves of cut-up coasters before taking a creativity test. Those who acted out the metaphor of ‘putting two and two together’ “displayed more convergent thinking” – creating multiple potential solutions before narrowing down to the most feasible one.

Again, literally piecing together objects can help you ‘connect’ thoughts. Give it a go.

3) Applying psychological distance to a problem can bring you closer to a solution

The Construal Level Theory (CLT) is a concept that describes the relationship between psychological distance and an individual’s perception. Things that seem far away from us in terms of time or space, for example, allow us to remove ourselves emotionally from a situation and create more innovative solutions to a given problem.

In a study, students from Indiana University had to write down as many types of transport as possible. Those who were told that the geographical location was Indiana (near) listed fewer options than those who were told the location was Greece (distant). Although the geography was irrelevant to the task, small cues like distance sparked creative thoughts.

The further away you take yourself away from a situation, the more room you have to think laterally.

So what does this all mean?

At The Smarty Train, we incorporate this thinking into our experiential training and immersive events. We are scientific in our approach, methodical and fastidious about detail, and use behavioural science in everything we do.

We help individuals to summon their inner DMN, act out metaphors in real life and take control of their creativity and problem solving by whisking them away to another world before bringing them back to reality to empower them to unlock their own talent.

Do you want your employees to feel more alive at work? Get in touch.

Tweet us your thoughts @thesmartytrain

[1] http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/employees-shut-off-their-minds-to-get-through-work
[2] https://www.wired.com/2014/08/shower-thoughts/
[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/72-of-people-get-their-best-ideas-in-the-shower-heres-why-a6814776.html
[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/opinion/sunday/when-truisms-are-true.html
[5] https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/to-think-outside-the-box-think-outside-the-box.html
[6] http://psych.nyu.edu/tropelab/publications/Libermanetal2007.pdf