Yes! There are productivity hacks that work while you’re sleeping.
Have you ever been on the cusp of a major decision and found yourself saying, “I need to sleep on it?” That’s because some of the greatest psychologists, writers and scientists have provided research to back up this claim.
The phenomenon is nicknamed The Incubation Effect. It is one of the best productivity hacks I’ve come across! It was originally established by a social psychologist named Graham Wallas in 1926 as a part of The Four Stages of Productivity.
We’re all wired naturally to do this, but there’s a way to approach this method and massively intensify its effects. In doing so, you will have two productivity hacks that literally work in your sleep!
Basically The Incubation Effect is a mental skill that’s used for generating ideas, solutions or benefits from the subconscious after taking a break from working on the subject matter.
You intentionally shut down the conscious part of your brain from focusing on the topic and allow your subconscious to go to work.
Short term: This is over a period of anywhere between a few hours to over night. Thus the term, ‘sleep on it.’
There’s something about the subconscious thought processes that occur during sleep that can often foster more clarity and insight that wasn’t present the day before.
Long term: This is over a period of a few days or even weeks.
When the conscious mind shuts down and stops focusing on a particular idea, often solutions or stronger ideas are formed simply because the conscious mind isn’t ‘tunnel visioned’ on providing the solution, or finishing up the project.
Have you ever worked so hard on something that you feel like you’re ‘racking your brain’ trying to come up with ideas? This is the perfect time to put your ideas onto the back burner.
From now on, try to look at this state as a signal that your conscious mind needs a break and allow the unconscious mind to take over.
The most important part of the Incubation Effect is the unconscious processing that goes on. When you take a break and consciously decide to come back later, the conscious mind shuts down.
Since you decided before taking the break that you’re going to come back to it later, this somehow awakens your subconscious. So while you move on to other tasks, your subconscious is tossing around ideas in the back of your mind.
Have you ever been doing some mundane daily task and you get an idea for something you’ve been deliberating on for a while?
These are the times where you want to grab a piece of paper and jot down your idea before it leaves.
This is just a small example of how the Incubation Effect works.
Is It Really That Simple?
Well, yes and no. These are the two hacks, as promised in this article’s headline:
- Sleep on it.
HOW TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL:
The trick is to know how to shut down one part of your brain and awaken the other part when you need to. This is where your practice of mental skills will come in handy.
In a way, we all do this ‘sleep on it’ thing naturally. So how can we really take this concept and make it work for us in an incredible way?
The main point of this is to awaken our subconscious mind.
You want to do this step in your conscious mind.
This includes researching, taking notes, outlining, mind mapping, gathering statistical data, finding supporting arguments and anything else you can do to develop a basic framework for the project, piece of writing or problem.
Take your time on this and make sure you do a thorough brainstorm.
The most important step is to thoroughly explore different approaches.
Consider every single angle, perspective, possibility and view you possibly can. You will know this step is complete when you are completely exhausted of all ideas.
This is the point when you begin ‘racking your brain.’ Remember, this is the sign to take a break.
So walk away, sleep on it…move on for now.
Just make sure that you have a notebook, Evernote, or an app on your phone handy at all times so that when your subconscious starts spitting out ideas, you can quickly record them, intentionally NOT dwell on them, and go about your routine.
THIS is the Incubation Effect at work. The more you practice it, the more productive and the more powerful this technique becomes.
Sleep On It
This is when you want your subconscious mind to take over.
Depending upon time constraints, ‘sleeping on it’ can mean a few hours, overnight, a few days or a few weeks.
Have you ever heard the term ‘in the back of my mind?’ This is what goes on during the Incubation Effect.
The subject matter is literally in the back of your mind. The ‘back of your mind’ could be considered your subconscious.
While you’re sleeping your subconscious takes the information that you brainstormed and puts it into varied thought patterns, uses different perspectives, and combines facts in varied ways.
The reason The Incubation Effect is so powerful is because when your subconscious is at work, you’re not inhibited by dismissive thoughts or negative core beliefs that often shut down the creativity process.
How to SUPER CHARGE the Incubation Process
Establish at least one good solid core belief or statement to repeat continuously when you find yourself thinking that you didn’t brainstorm or research enough.
Without positive thinking at all times, these productivity hacks will not be able to manifest in your subconscious mind.
It’ll all come together. I’ll let it marinate in the back of my mind and come back to it later.
Your mind is going to want to revert back to moments of brainstorming, so it’s important to arm yourself for when this happens.
Productive distractions can include everyday tasks such as social media marketing, profit and loss, newsletters, returning emails, searching for new clients etc.
Keep your work schedule detailed and full so there’s no significant amounts of time available that will tempt you to return to conscious brainstorming.
Back up Tasks
Back up tasks are tasks you need to have ready to switch to when your everyday tasks just can’t seem to keep your mind off of your ‘incubating’ project.
These may include reading, catching up on the podcasts you’ve been meaning to watch, filing, cleaning out your email inbox, doing some spring cleaning, working on a craft project, playing with your family, etc.
In a nutshell you are ‘suppressing’ your conscious mind from dwelling on the subject matter. Suppressing emotions is NOT healthy, and that’s not what this is suggesting.
The word suppress means:
“to put an end to the activities of (a person, body of persons, etc.)”
In this context, it’s referring to putting your brainstorming to bed. ‘Sleep on it.’
When you consciously walk away, you’re opening up the subconscious part of your brain to take over. THIS is incubation.
Productivity hacks, in all respects are actions that you take in an effort to save time and to grow your business.
Using these two very simple methods is the most powerful, effortless hack available.
The more you incorporate it, the more success you will attain. Try the Incubation Effect for a while.
Once you truly learn to tap into your subconscious, you will be amazed at the increase in your creativity as well as your productivity.
Yes! There really are productivity hacks that work in your sleep! Now go out there and be productive!
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