Home Office Design for Problem Solving: Sleep On It.

How do you approach problem solving or product creation in your home office when it requires original thought or creative solutions? Do you bang it out right away? Do you wait until the last minute to get it done?

Man sleeping on the floor under a cubicle desk.

In your home office you can create a more comfortable space to think and reflect on a problem or challenge.

The suggestion “sleep on it” has some real merit according to neuroscience.

When do ideas or solutions come to you? For me it is when I awake in the morning. Others say it is in the shower. “Brainwaves” that arrive shortly after awakening.

A show on NOVA about brain science discussed how the brain works when it is learning something. Studies with rats learning their way around a maze discovered that at night when the rats where asleep their brain activity was similar to their brain activity while actively learning during the day. And when the rats were tested the next day they performed better than they had before they “slept on it.”

Infants and young children learn in the same way.

Sleep (at night and naptime) is when babies neurologically consolidate what they have learned as they experience and explore the world around them.

John Cleese, in a video, takes it even farther.

In a talk on creativity he tells a story of how he wrote a Monty Python script and then mislaid it. When he could not find it the next day, he sat down and re-wrote the script from memory, convinced it would be inferior to the original. Later he found the original script and compared the two. He was amazed that the second script was better than the original in every way. His conclusion: While he was asleep his brain had been working, improving and refining his original idea.

Moral to this story: Allowing yourself (and your brain) time away from a project or a problem leads to better results. Take a break. If your timeframe allows it, give yourself time away from the problem – you will come up with better solutions.

You can design your home office to include a thinking chair or reflecting corner.

Maybe those morning insights have been percolating in your brain while you were “sleeping on it.”

Learn about the overlooked perk of the home office in The Smarter Home Office: 8 Simple Steps in Increase Your Income, Inspiration and Comfort.

photo by agoode