Here’s a situation that might feel familiar: You spend all day at work racking your brain for a brilliant idea to present to your boss and, after a very long eight hours, your notepad is still blank. You leave the office, go home, hop in the shower and BAM: a totally genius idea pops into your head, and you think Why, oh whyyy, didn’t I think of this at work?!
Well, it turns out, you’re not actually bad at your job (phew!). According to a very interesting piece on Slate, ideas are just easier to come by when you’re doing something a little bit distracting, like washing your hair. The reason for these Aha! shower moments is something psychologists call incubation: Ideas stew in the back of our minds for a while before we actually become aware of them. And in order to properly incubate and realize the totally brilliant idea, we need some element of distraction.
Apparently, the familiar routine of showering, where you just barely have to think about what you’re doing, is the perfect slightly-distracting-but-not-too-distracting place for that incubation process to end and for your idea to be realized. (We’re hoping a nice relaxing bubble bath does the trick, too.)
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