It’s okay to do nothing.
No, really. Sometimes you just need to give your brain a little rest.
I was spending a quiet Friday with my wife the other week, and I decided I should probably catch up on a little sleep. I readily admit that I’m a night owl and I am also, by necessity, an early riser. At times, this doesn’t bode well for my productivity.
I really enjoyed this article by Daphne Gray-Grant of Publication Coach. Ms. Gray-Grant has endured a number of sleep problems at various times in her life, and she came to the conclusion that among the extremely valuable health benefits of getting enough sleep, it does a great deal for your creativity as well.
You’ll come across articles all over the internet that say a staggered sleep schedule is best, and that Tesla slept for only tow hours a night. There’s absolutely no reason to burden yourself by employing an eccentric sleeping pattern just because it happened to work for someone else. Remember what happened to Kramer.
Whatever you do, whether it’s writing, answering phones or chopping trees for a living (especially then!), you need your sleep. 7-9 hours will really do your body a lot of good.
Going back to my quiet Friday, I dozed off on the couch and kept a notebook nearby in case I had any ideas when I woke. Not only did I wake up feeling recharged, but I had a bit of inspiration to work on a side project to boot. Even if you can’t sleep, I’d really encourage you to find some time in the day to simply rest and do nothing. Ideas tend to creep up on me in the quiet times.
Giving your body rest is crucial to creative success. Fuelled by a constant need to improve himself (and God love the man for it), best selling author Jim Collins once told the New York Times that he studied his sleeping habits over a period of time and found that if he didn’t get 70-75 hours a week, he could go about his daily routine, but creativity simply can’t happen.
If I don’t get enough sleep or am without the opportunity to catch up on much-needed rest, I’m not focused on my writing; I’m focused on nodding off.
While the image of a writer typing the next great American novel into the wee hours of the morning is romanticized, I don’t find it to be particularly true and agree with Mr. Collins and Ms. Gray-Grant both: the best way to sleep and maintain creativity and inspiration is to get a good, full night’s sleep. You may not be up and awake for as many hours as before, but the productivity you’ll achieve by being fully rested will more than make up for the difference.
What are your thoughts on sleeping and creativity? Discuss in the comments below!
Be sure to check out my portfolio and professional site here.