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Want to Be More Creative? Tap Into Your Circadian Rhythms

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Hope Clark leads a dual life. By day, she writes and edits the newsletter Funds for Writers; by night, she plots murder mysteries.“I’m very good at compartmentalizing,” says Clark, who spends her mornings on analytical problem-solving tasks like research, organization, layout, and editing. “There’s not a lot of creativity in my day job, but at night is when my mind wanders and I dream up all kinds of twists and turns in my characters’ lives.”A recent study conducted by the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University shows that, like Clark, many people have counterintuitive circadian rhythms—the daily cycles of physiological and cognitive activity—for creativity. Two types of problem solving were measured: analytical tasks that require you to work steadily toward answers (like doing your taxes), and insight ability, requiring out-of-the box thinking. The study found that self-described “morning people” who are more productive in the early daytime hours are actually better at solving problems requiring creative insight in the evening. The opposite was true for those who said they were more alert …

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