How Doing Nothing Makes You More Creative

by | Process

This is a guest post from Jeff Goins of

Ever get inspired in the shower? Have a good idea while driving in the car? Of course you have. We all have.

But why do our moments of greatest epiphany happen at the least opportune times?

It’s hard to jot down a song lyric or sketch a quick drawing while you’re behind the wheel or reaching for the soap. Still, despite the inconvenience, creativity comes when we least expect it.

But maybe the reason we get inspired at inopportune moments is because those are the few times when actually slow down.

For many of us, our days are consumed with busyness. As we bounce from one activity to the next, we multi-task and double-up on responsibilities, constantly striving to squeeze out just a little more productivity from our already-limited time.

And meeting after meeting, phone call after phone call, we slowly lose our creative muscle. Maybe, though, what we need is not a whiteboard in the shower but more space in our lives for good ideas to come.

Here are three activities that have helped me create such space:

  1. Take walks. In our fast-paced, hustle-and-bustle society, we’ve lost the art of taking our time, especially when it comes to transportation. Going for a walk once a day is a great way to notice everyday beauty and have some time to just think.
  2. Go analog. Evernote and InDesign and iPad apps are great. But there’s something powerful about the tactile experience of picking up a notebook or sketchpad and jotting down your best ideas. When you use the same tools over and over again, your craft can start to stagnate. Going “old school” can cause the stopped-up inspiration to flow again.
  3. Ditch the smartphone. If you’re checking email every fifteen minutes (as most people do) or letting your friend’s text messages interrupt a deep dive into your work, you’re far from creating your best work. Distractions kill creativity; they just do. Try creating some space by turning off the notifications for an hour and focusing on the work.

These are disciplines, not once-and-done activities. So the more you do them, the more space you’ll create — and hopefully, the more creative you’ll be.

Good luck.

Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins is a writer who lives in Nashville. He just released his second book, The In-Between, which is about how we can slow down and enjoy what's right in front of us. Visit Jeff on his blog at and check out his new book at You can also follow him on Twitter @JeffGoins.

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