I had a good night’s sleep last night. I usually do to be honest. There were the usual bouts of wakefulness but they are bracketed each side by some solid and not so solid sleep in all its variations. I know I had a lot of light sleep as I spent a lot of time mulling over some problems with a piece of work that I’m planning. I didn’t like the way the increases looked and I really didn’t like how the colour transitions were working out. I now have a good solution that became clear to me sometime between around 4 and 6 am. I know that some of the time during all that ‘mulling’ I was essentially asleep. There is a lot of research on the use of downtime to increase creativity.
Overwork does in fact make you a dullard or at least it does to me. This is not a new phenomenon. The German organic chemist, August Kekulé formulated the structure of the benzene ring in the 1860’s after a ‘day dream’ whereby a snake captured its own tail. There are many essays and articles on the benefits of doing nothing to be found on the internet – just google ‘downtime and creativity’. Forbes have a good one with a quote from Confucius who was around a very long time ago: “Learning without reflection is a waste, reflection without learning is dangerous” You just need to give ideas time to brew or ferment.
I can easily admit that now I have no full time ‘day job’ to occupy my waking hours, I can focus on the things I really am interested in and so possibly be more creative and productive. I have certainly come up with ideas and solutions during those ‘wee small hours’ when the mind can take flight and conjure up all sorts of nonsense and make simple concerns into huge worries. I am not saying that these don’t happen but I do find focusing on a problem that has a practical solution helps me in many ways.
Going back to Confucius and his advice on reflection, I’ve thought about the solution that ‘sprang to mind’ last night and I think it will work. A number of my patterns have had major alterations done as a result of these overnight deliberations. They haven’t all been successful though – but I have tested most of them out in one way or another.