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Creative problem solving at 3 AM

  1. Jan 14, 2012 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Over the years I have noticed a pattern: I tend to do my best work after fixating on a problem for a very long time, and usually after getting far too little sleep and drinking way too much coffee. If I am well rested and working a sane schedule, I never seem to pop off with those OMG solutions. And my best ideas - the ones that have essentially made my career - came late into the night, and often in the wee hours of the morning.

    During the month of December I took the first real break that I've had in years - for three weeks I barely even thought about work. It has taken just as long to get focused again. No matter how hard I tried, the ideas just weren't coming. Only now is the light beginning to shine again.

    In a metaphorical sense, it is as if creativity has momentum and inertia.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
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  3. Jan 14, 2012 #2

    Astronuc

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    There is a book - Wide Awake at 3 AM. I received a copy years ago when I bought a subscription of Scientific American.
    https://www.amazon.com/Wide-Awake-M-Choice-Chance/dp/0716717964

    Sometimes it works for me, although I think I do my best thinking in the shower, or sometimes during the weekend, or when walking, or when gardening, and sometimes after relaxing and drinking a few beers.
     
  4. Jan 14, 2012 #3

    DaveC426913

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    I often solve my problems in the shower - after a night of sleep, a clear mind and a chance to sneak up on a skittish problem from cover of tall grass.
     
  5. Jan 14, 2012 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    That sounds like a different twist. It refers to shifted sleep cycles. I'm talking about working 18 and 20-hour days.
     
  6. Jan 14, 2012 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    There is a difference between problem solving, and creative problem solving. If I'm working a pure math or engineering problem, I do better after getting sleep. However, for problems that require thinking outside the box, uninterrupted continuity of thought seems to be almost as important as, or more important than rest.
     
  7. Jan 15, 2012 #6
    I have noticed I come up with solutions over a lot of things in the shower or drying myself afterwards.
     
  8. Jan 15, 2012 #7
    My theory on this is that being awake for extended periods of time is incredibly boring so your mind will do anything to get to sleep even if that means solving all your problems.
     
  9. Jan 15, 2012 #8

    DaveC426913

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    I don't have a lot of things in the shower - soaping up and rinsing down. How many things do you have in the shower? :biggrin:
     
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