“By taking that fifteen-minute period for mindlessness or daydreaming, your attention has been broadened and your mind is now able to make more creative connections between ideas. This cannot happen when you stay overly focused on a problem,” explains (Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania).
Walking, in particular, appears to boost creativity. In a study appropriately titled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs,” researchers found that, both during the walks and right afterward, people scored higher on several different creativity tests.
You can also unfocus by broadening your experiential and intellectual horizons. According to Kaufman, anything that violates expectations of how the world works can boost creativity. For example, a semester spent studying abroad boosts students’ creativity. Why? New experiences that disrupt our usual way of life and show us a different perspective make us more mentally flexible or creative.
Stanford psychologist Emma Seppälä writing in the Washington Post