Alert minds aren’t the best at problem-solving. In fact, brains are the most creative when they wander, which usually happens at the time of day when you don’t expect to do your best work, says Mareike Wieth, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Albion College in Michigan, based on a study she did with a Michigan State professor.
If you’re a night owl, brainstorming should be most effective early in the day (reverse that for “morning people”). What’s more, arming yourself with pencil and paper probably isn’t the best way to capture that innovative thinking—then you’re distracted by choosing what to write down. Instead, allow random thoughts to percolate and try not to think of the problem at hand. Wieth says the process might go something like: shopping list… what’s for dinner… eureka!
Once you pinpoint a solution, work on it when you’re fresh, rested and focused. Problem solved.