Stuck on a project? Sleep on it

Photo from Pixabay

By: Sam Rios

I woke up in the middle of the night, straight out of a dream. My first thought was, “I need to assign Jessie a to-do.” Still in the shallow-end of R.E.M., with the subconscious bubbling, I thought about project details for my internship. In this half-awake state, I was able to have clear insight into something that had been bouncing around my mind for days.

“They say that it’s helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes on a project. If you step away from your work, that fresh pair of eyes can be your own.”

Sleep on it. That doesn’t mean procrastinate, it means to let insight come to you by directing your attention to some other activity. This can mean sleep but it can also mean read a book, watch a show or take a walk. 

When we focus on one aspect of a project, our thought processes on the subject get ingrained. This concentration is useful until creativity and inspiration start to dry up. Without those, you can find yourself stuck in place. This creative block leads to frustration and sometimes negative feelings toward the project.

 Try all you want to forcibly tear out of stagnation’s shackles, you will not break free. The only way to move on is to surrender to your inability to move forward.

When I focus on a project, eventually all I can do is polish off details. Even when I create an environment for myself to have insights, they rarely come. Instead, insight comes at unexpected times — during the middle of a workout or as I’m walking in between class. Or, recently, waking up in the middle of the night. 

When you dream, you think in symbols and feelings, not thoughts. These symbols and feelings are direct communication from your intuition. Frustration for a project stems from the inability to translate your intuition into action. My intuition knew the to-do that had to be assigned to Jessie. My conscious mind, however, was caught up in irrelevant details of the project. 

The dream state is the most deliberate time that anyone’s intuition communicates with the conscious mind. This also happens when we immerse ourselves in an activity. When we are immersed, the mind has the opportunity to quiet down. In this state, we symbolically sleep on the subject by letting it slip from our conscious mind. The subconscious, however, will not let it slip. Let your intuition chew up the problem and digest it. As a result, it might just feed you some juicy, gooey creativity.

They say that it’s helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes on a project. If you step away from your work, that fresh pair of eyes can be your own.  

Don’t strive for insight, let it come to you. Do the work when you need to, but don’t exhaust yourself. Your creativity on the subject is not an inexhaustible resource. Find the things that allow you to recover and recharge.

So sleep on it. Read on it. Workout on it. Take a walk on it. Eat on it. Live your life in a meaningful way and the meaning of your project will reveal itself to you.

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