I like to do the daily crossword puzzle on the Metro as I commute into work. It helps to get my brain into gear to tackle the day ahead. Depending on the day, I’ll sometimes go round and round, over and over on some clues trying to figure them out. But other days, if I can’t figure out those more challenging clues, I’ll let it go after a couple tries. During lunch, or on my evening commute heading home, I’ll pick back up on the same puzzle, and an interesting thing happens. Most of those unsolvable clues from the morning are no longer a problem.
Society often values and rewards pushing through on tasks, working long hours in one stretch, in order to get them done. But is that really the best approach? Taking a step back, recharging, and letting the brain focus on other things (or on nothing at all), can often yield better results when the task at hand is again front and center. So the next time you’re faced with a challenging assignment or project and find yourself stuck, try to let it go and come back to it later on. See what happens. It seems intuitive, but many of us, including me, sometimes get swept away in envisioning the completed task, or just wanting to get it over with to cross it off the to-do list, and try to plow through. For more on this, check out this article that outlines the benefits of taking breaks!