Sunday, June 4, 2023

Why Do You Get Your Best Ideas During Showers?

To stimulate your creativity or imagination, give yourself at least 1-2 hours of downtime a day when you should 'do nothing'.


  • Your imagination happens when your brain is ‘doing nothing’.
  • Whenever you need to come up with fresh ideas, it is important to not think too hard or force your thoughts.
  • Showers, long walks, and aimless ‘time-wasting’ activities are great for creativity to flourish.

The Science

  • Your imagination is enabled when your brain is not doing goal-oriented tasks or not paying focused attention to anything, disparagingly called daydreaming.

The Neuroscience Behind Your Creativity

Our brain thinks in two separate modes or networks, only one of which can be active at a time:

Task-Positive Network (TPN)

  • This is activated during goal-directed tasks, which need your attention to what is around you.
  • Think of the words: looking, searching, thinking, focussing. This is when the TP network is active.

Default-Mode Network (DMN)

  • This is active when a person is not focused on the outside world. Our imagination and creativity take place in the DM network.
  • It gets deactivated during goal-oriented tasks. So when you force yourself to think about anything, the DM network and the creative part of your mind get switched off.
  • Think of the words: aimless, absent-minded, inattentive, erratic, haphazard. That is when you are at your creative best. An absent-minded scientist is more than a stereotype; it may be a job requirement.


  • Give yourself one to two hours of ‘downtime’ a day when you ‘do nothing’. That is your creative time.
  • Parents don’t like their children whiling away time, exhorting them to do something ‘useful’. However, children’s imagination works best when they are wasting time.
  • When you are watching TV or using social media, you need focused attention. That prevents creativity.
  • When you are working out in a gym, doing yoga or meditation, you are doing goal-oriented tasks. In mindfulness, you are trying to control your mind from wandering and focus on the breath. Your brain cannot be in creative mode during any of these.
  • For busy people, the long toilet breaks used to be such ‘free’ time but with social media on mobile phones, even that option is receding.
  • Any office task needing creativity will not work well if one is forced to think hard and come up with ideas. It is better to take long aimless walks in a garden than sit in corporate war-room brainstorming ideas. Now, tell that to your boss.

To Read More

First published on: 19th December 2021
Image credit: Sergey Torbik on Pexels
Last Updated on: 17th May 2023


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