It’s no secret that many famous geniuses embraced eccentric habits. Benjamin Franklin stood naked at his open window every morning, taking what he called “air baths”. And while he’s likely the only person (ever) to do so, there are some behaviors that geniuses across time shared and swore by. Here are five habits that you can adopt to unleash your inner genius.
1. Walk every day
Taking hours-long daily walks were essential to the creative blossoming of the likes of Charles Dickens, Beethoven, Søren Kierkegaard, Tchaikovsky and many more. According to Harvard Business Review, a 2013 study found that, “people who go for a walk or ride a bike four times a week are able to think more creatively than people who lead a sedentary life.” The brilliant thing about this habit: anyone can do it, you can start any time and it’s free. Try it today!
2. Limit distractions
Jonathan Franzen plugged an ethernet cable into his computer with superglue and then broke it off to eliminate any possible internet distractions. Dr. Yoshiko Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,000 inventions including the floppy disk, secluded himself into a room tiled with gold to block radio and television waves from interfering with his creativity. You don’t need to go to these extremes to protect yourself from technology brain drain. Instead, just close your computer, work from a notebook and pen and, if the urge to scroll through Instagram consumes you, turn off your phone and install an internet blocking service like Freedom, which cuts off online distractions so you can get work done.
3. Wear a “uniform”
Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama all wore basically the same outfit every day. Jobs wore his signature black mock turtleneck, jeans and New Balance sneakers. Einstein wore a gray suit and no socks. Mark Zuckerberg owns about 20 identical gray shirts. And Barack Obama typically only wore gray or blue suits. Why? It eliminates one decision you have to make every day and frees up that time for more important brain activities. Here’s some advice on finding your own chic signature look.
4. Measure and follow through on goals
Anthony Trollope wrote on a schedule: 250 words every 15 minutes for three hours, which translated to 3000 words at the end of each day. Even if he finished writing a book during his allowed writing time, he’d just start writing a new book. BF Skinner set a timer every time he wrote and mapped out his time spent and word output on a graph. The lesson: don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Just show up faithfully, go through the motions and let the work flow.
Steve Jobs’ biography reveals that he cried freely, out of both frustration and joy. When we let our tears flow, we allow our bodies to experience healing. Why? “Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration,” according to Dr. Judith Orloff, writing for Psychology Today. Crying allows the body to experience release, relief and a rebalancing of the mind.
Awaken the genius within with these very accessible daily habits. None of these require mounds of money or an embarrassing degree of eccentricity. You can cry in private and inject a little bit of variety into your uniform so your colleagues don’t grow concerned that you didn’t actually change your clothes from yesterday. And of course, if eccentricity is your thing, you can always stand naked at your open window. If your neighbors complain, just tell them you’re following the lead of a founding father.
The materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and do not reflect the opinions of ChimpChange LLC or Central Bank of Kansas City, Member FDIC. Several of these blog posts may contain links to content on third party websites which are provided for your convenience, please note that linked sites may have a privacy and security policy different from our own, and we cannot attest to the accuracy of information. ChimpChange LLC and Central Bank of Kansas City do not guarantee nor expressly endorse any particular product, service or third party content.