Good ideas? Give them time

Even the most brilliant minds fall flat. Writing yesterday in Wired, Jonah Lehrer describes one good way to separate the good ideas from the bad. Take a break from the creative process.

How can the rest of us get better at identifiying our best ideas? One key lesson from this research is that distraction and dilettantism come with real benefits, as they give the unconscious a chance to assess its new ideas.

So the next time you invent something new, don’t immediately file a patent, or hit the “publish” button, or race to share the draft with your editor. Instead, take a few days off: play a stupid video game, or go for a long walk, or sleep on it. Unless you take a brief break, you won’t be able to accurately assess what you’ve done.