When we unfocus from a problem or challenge, we relax enough to see new possibilities and solutions. Excessive focus drains our energy. We need to create space to allow ourselves to see our priorities with more clarity. The brain works optimally when it switches between focus and unfocus. How can you unfocus?
Train your unfocus
This blog is all about training your focus. But did you know that, in order to focus on a task, you also need to unfocus from time to time? And did you know that unfocusing creates room for ideas and boosts your creativity? Making your work better and allowing you to make better decisions? Yes, focus is great but it does have a downside. Excessive focus exhausts the focus circuits in your brain. It drains your energy. Making you more impulsive and less creative.
Remember the last time you were concentrating on a task for a long time? You were focused, staring at the screen. Your neck and shoulders were aching and you experienced eye strain. But you promised yourself to stay focused and finish the work. So you kept going. An hour later you were done but you felt drained. And you were not happy with the result of your work either. It was, well… uninspired to say the least.
And do you remember that time you were standing in the shower? The water was falling on your head and neck and you were thinking about nothing in particular. And suddenly you had a great idea! You just connected the dots. Wow, were did that come from?
The brain works optimally when it switches between focus and unfocus
Switch between focus and unfocus
Research showed that both focus and unfocus are vital. The brain works optimally when it switches between focus and unfocus. It allows you to develop resilience, enhance creativity and make better decisions. When we unfocus from the problem or challenge, we relax enough to see new possibilities and solutions. We need to create space to allows us to see our priorities with more clarity.
Engage the Default Mode Network
When we unfocus, we engage a brain circuit called the ‘default mode network’ (DMN). When at rest, this circuit uses twenty percent of the body’s energy. The DMN uses this energy to activate old memories and go back and forth between the past, present and future. Doing so, it recombines different ideas. You get access to data that was previously inaccessible. That can help you to come up with creative solutions and make better decisions.
How can we unfocus?
Do something simple and repetitive
This can be anything that does not require a lot of brain power and just keeps you busy. I am sure you can think of stuff to do. Maybe you can work in your garden, vacuum the house or do the dishes.
Do you still know how to daydream? I’m sure that you daydreamed a lot as a kid. Try it! Just stare out of the window and use your imagination. Forget the upcoming appointments and to -do lists and daydream for a while and just fantasize or think about things in the past and plans for the future.
Take a nap
Sit back, set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and close your eyes. You may drift off and wake up refreshed. Full of energy and maybe some new ideas.
Meditate for fifteen minutes and do a ‘guided daydream’. Think about places you were in the past. Things that were important and people you knew back then.
This is by far my favorite way to unfocus. Stand up from your desk and go outside. Just walk and daydream while walking.
Or you could just take a shower. Somehow the hot water falling in your neck always sparks some kind of magic. Just make sure you have a waterproof notepad to take notes.