Picture yourself in your creativity zone, where ideas can’t stop flowing and inspiration seems to come naturally. You finally solve something that has been hanging over you for weeks and now you sit back, relax, and and quietly celebrate a job well done. A lot of people want to reach this mind state, but many have trouble figuring out where to even begin.
Creativity generally differs from person to person, depending on individual factors and unique body rhythms. Research has proven, however, that there are certain times of the day, week, and year that you are at your most creative. The first step towards figuring out when your creative juices flow is understanding how the calendar affects creativity.
What is your most creative time of the day?
Have you ever wondered if your tendency to stay up late means you are more creative at night? Or if your ability to rise and shine means mornings are when you’re most inspired? Research on creativity and problem-solving actually shows the opposite; people are most creative when their brains are the most tired and least functional. This means night owls are more creative in the morning and early birds are more creative at night.
The explanation behind this creativity paradox lies in how the brain functions just after you wake up and right before you go to bed. During these times, your brain is delayed and foggy, causing your thinking to be less analytical and more disorganized. Creativity requires a wandering, unfocused brain that is open to new ideas and able to make unusual mental connections. When a night owl wakes up early, their groggy brain is in an optimal state for creative work and by night, their brain is focused and ready for more analytical tasks.
What is your most creative day of the week?
Finding your most creative day of the week is not an exact science, because work schedules and extracurriculars differ from person to person. There are, however, certain days of the week that spark more creativity than others. Monday is typically our least favorite day because it is the first day back from the weekend and involves doing more work than any other day of the week. By Friday everyone’s energy is drained in anticipation for the weekend and it becomes harder to focus. On Tuesday, your productivity is higher than any other day and your mind is sharp, fresh, and ready to work. This combination makes Tuesday the perfect day to brainstorm ideas or to start a creative project.
While Tuesday is the best day for sparking creativity in your work life, Saturday and Sunday are best days to focus on hobbies and non-work pursuits. Take advantage of those days by going outdoors or working in a serene space to get you into your creative zone.
What is your most creative time of year?
Depending on where you live and your perception of the seasons, how they affect your creativity and productivity will vary. Regardless of location, there is an annual event that increases creativity in the fall months: the start of the school year. Years of schooling conditions us to think of the fall, especially the months of August and September, as a new beginning. After a summer of empty offices and well-timed vacations, fall is when most of us turn our attention back to being productive. You might get new office supplies or finally clean out your desk at this time of year because you associate the fall with a fresh start. This desire to begin anew is beneficial to the creative process because it can introduce new ideas and new ways of thinking to get your brain out of its summer siesta mode.
You may not want to wait until a random Tuesday in August to launch your next brilliant project, but the next time you find your creative energy flagging, it might be worth a look at the calendar (or your watch) to see if shifting your schedule can help to unlock your mind.