If you’ve seriously considered investing in a waterproof notepad just so don’t forget all the great ideas you have mid-suds, you’re not alone (those totally exist, BTW). And there’s a reason you have an overflow of genius thoughts while you’re under that warm, soothing water: It’s one of the few times of the day you let your brain truly wander, thanks to something called the Zeigarnik effect.
According to Fast Company, your mind tends to remember unsolved or interrupted problems better than projects you’ve already finished—the aforementioned Zeigarnik effect. So when you’re stumped by a complex puzzle—a tricky riddle, for instance, or a complicated workflow issue at work—and take a break from trying to reason it out, the idea lingers in your brain (kind of like all those unclosed apps chugging along in the background on your phone). And when you let your mind drift, it gives your brain the chance to connect insights from your actions or surroundings with your unsolved problems in order to come up with a solution.
The reason those puzzle pieces often come together in the shower is because nothing in there requires your full attention.
The reason those puzzle pieces often come together in the shower is because nothing in there requires your full attention. It’s quiet, you’re relaxed, and you’re basically just left with your wandering thoughts. So you may glance at your shampoo bottle, which was recommended by your co-worker Ali, and—aha! You realize that Ali is the perfect person to lead that new project.
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