4 Ways to Use Your Tired Brain to Be More Creative

October 6, 2016 • Rehack Team


If you’re hitting a productivity slump, it’s difficult to get anything done, let alone something that requires unbridled creativity. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to encourage your creative juices to keep flowing, even when you’re tired and ready to fall asleep. Here are a few ideas.

1. Listen to Upbeat, Inspiring Music

Music transcends generations because the most beloved and well-known songs mean different things to the people who hear them. That’s because we associate life events and experiences with the tunes that move us. Think about the chart hits that dominated the radio during the year you turned 16 and began to drive, or the song you danced to with your new spouse on your wedding night.

In addition to helping us recall positive things in life, music can also make us feel energized and more appreciative of creative efforts. If you’ve ever listened to a song and felt the writer skillfully captured the exact situation you’re going through, you’re already aware of music’s inherent power.

The next time you’ve hit a creative block due to tiredness, put on a playlist packed full of your favorite upbeat songs. Ideally, choose ones you feel are particularly good examples of creative genius. The fast tempo should make you feel more awake, while the strong creativity demonstrations help you break through your barrier.

2. Realize Boredom’s Not Always a Bad Thing

Boredom and tiredness often go hand in hand. You might think boredom is counterproductive to productivity, but that may not be the case, according to researchers. In one recent study, scientists split people into two groups. They told one group to copy numbers from a phone book while the other group received a more creative task.

Next, both groups had to come up with as many uses as possible for a polystyrene cup. The group that was initially told to write down phone numbers ultimately dreamt up more results. Scientists think it’s because the boredom they experienced during the first task made their minds wander, which stimulated creativity.

3. Don’t Attempt to Become More Alert

Do you believe there’s no way you can be at your creative best when feeling weary? Science begs to differ. A professor at Albion University discovered people excel more during creative tasks when tired. Researchers divided people into two groups depending on whether they usually felt most alert early in the morning or late at night.

Then the test subjects received three math problems and three questions that required creativity to solve. The subjects regularly did better on the creative assignments when they were sleepier. Researchers believe that may be because when we’re tired, our thoughts flow more freely. Whenever you feel less productive while pressing through work despite fatigue, bring this study to mind and reshape your perspective by seeing your lowered alertness level as a possible asset.

4. Show Openness Toward New Ideas

As it turns out, not only could tiredness lead to unhindered thoughts, but it may also urge us to consider offbeat possibilities we might otherwise discount when in top condition. If your internal voice tends to stifle creativity and productivity alike by whispering “that’s ridiculous” every time a seemingly crazy idea flies into your head, wait until you’re more worn out, and then begin keeping a list of all the things you come up with during that period of tiredness.

Indeed, some of the items you jot down may be unfeasible, but you may also be surprised at how creative you naturally were, despite not feeling wide-awake. This practice of keeping records of anything that pops into our heads is one reason why people take part in free writing to overcome writer’s block. When they scribble things on paper without thinking first, it’s often easier for them to overcome mental obstacles that prevented creativity from happening.

Turn Your Thinking Around

As you can see from these suggestions, being tired isn’t always something that halts creativity and could actually help it. Don’t pause your productive efforts just because you can hardly stop yawning. Instead, view being tired as a positive attribute that empowers your hard-working brain.