"Just let your mind work on it overnight."
I'm just returning from a speaking engagement at the Yorkshire Int'l Business Convention in the UK. It was a life-changing experience.
One of the reasons it was so impactful has to do with the person who spoke directly after me: John Cleese. Many of you might know him as the brilliant mind behind the english comedy Faulty Towers or a collaborator in Monty Python. His comic genius is a reflection of his incredible insight into human nature, specifically, creativity. He is currently a visiting professor at Cornell University, specializing in the area of human psychology.
His speech centered on how all of us can be more creative and problem solve with ease. One piece of advice he gave was simple: Work hard on a creative problem, then sleep on it. The next morning, you will likely wake up with the solution. In fact, Cleese said, you'll often wonder why you thought it was a problem in the first place.
This was his experience writing sketch comedy. He explained that while we sleep, our brain continues to work on the problem, free from our waking distractions. When you wake up, the brain downloads fresh associative data into your thought patterns and you have your breakthrough.
He made one important clarification: You have the do the work the day before. You can't just give your brain an assignment, then sleep your way to success. Work comes first.