play_artI’m up to my armpits in moving boxes and trying to stay on top of my clients and website redesign. Copy needs writing, designs need to be approved. My dogs need their shots, and my kids have to go to the airport – they’re out of here, for good.

I don’t have time to waste. I don’t have a moment to spare. Deadlines. Pressure. I was sitting at my desk in a mild panic, and the work had stopped flowing half an hour earlier. Frustration and fear settle in. What can you do? YOU GOTTA DO SOMETHING NOW.  

Just quit. Really. This would be my advice even if you were the President of the United States, or a cop in a life and death situation where the path is unclear. Just quit, just for a moment.

Do something non-verbal. Only you can decide how much time you have to devote to this ‘quit.’ Can you go for a walk? Pick up a ukulele? Can you dance from one foot to the other. Can you literally just shake your head and body for a minute. Can you doodle a spiral or draw a comic character? Even a CEO could shake it off and benefit from the brief ‘quit.’

If you have a little more leisure to ‘quit’ then go out and garden, take a long walk, bake or clean, ride a bike, run some errands. Do something non-verbal. Quit thinking. When you come back to thinking about the problem, your brain will have reset – the pace of your thoughts will have changed.

If you take a long break, your brain will continue to work on the problem, as you sleep, bike, bake, garden, play the drums or draw. You can relax, and set your brain on auto-pilot. It continues to search your past solutions for a match to the current problem. This is called Incubation. It’s why we get ideas in the shower, or when driving.

So next time you’re working on something really important and under a lot of time pressure, make sure you take time to quit.