Warm up your mind before difficult tasks

Like so many parents, I spent this weekend at a park watching youth sports. My son had four games, and for every game we were there 45 minutes early so that the team could warm up. Everyone understands the idea of a warm up before a sporting event.  Loosen the muscles. Get the blood flowing. Allow the body to do simple tasks like jogging, or making a five foot pass, before demanding it do something more difficult like sprinting or delivering a twenty yard pass.

Yet, while we all understand the practice of warming up our muscles, we often dive into difficult problems without warming up our brain. I was at a work session on Friday where the facilitator deliberately took us through a brain warm up.  In pairs of two, we had to offer point and counter point as to which is better, tigers or bears.  We were given too much time, so we had to come up with creative reasons.  The facilitator cited a study that mental exercises that force the brain to be creative, mental warm up exercises, help the brain to be more creative up to eight hours later.

Try it.  Pull out a piece of paper and give me 20 reasons that bears are better than tigers.  Then let me know at the end of the day, did your brain function better having gone through warm ups?