Shifting your focus can lead to unexpected insight

03/11/2014 | Harvard Business Review online/HBR Blog Network

You may be able to generate more creative ideas by taking a break every once in a while, research suggests. Participants in a study were asked to come up with alternative uses for a piece of paper. Those who were given other tasks to complete in the middle of the creative process actually came up with the most ideas. "One possible explanation for these findings is that when presented with complicated problems, the mind can often get stuck, finding itself tracing back through certain pathways of thinking again and again," writes David Burkus.

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