A few days ago, just before lunchtime, I was attempting to tackle a thorny work issue and as I concentrated and frowned and sunk deeper into my chair, the answer simply would not emerge.

Thankfully, my doorbell rang and I went to take delivery of a parcel for my daughter’s birthday. As I opened the front door and squiggled my signature I was struck by a dramatic sky with pinks and greys and ominous clouds. It occurred to me that this was the first time I had ‘lifted my head’ all day.

I watched the dark clouds hurtle inwards for about a minute more and decided upon yet another cup of tea. As the kettle boiled and flicked itself off, the answer to the thorny work problem dropped into my mind.

It reminded me of the Taoist principle of ‘nothing equals something’ and I realised that this actually happens a lot. When you step away from deep problem-solving, when you change your environment from the frenzied, task-focused to-do list, a lot of things fall into place. Seemingly without effort.

More and more demands are being placed on us in the workplace and it takes discipline and effort to create space in our day, to think, to contemplate and to trust that answers and questions and creativity will unroot from our minds.

My encouragement then is to create space for yourself, for your thoughts. To trust it will be helpful – for your wellbeing as well as your problem-solving. And if you are not in the habit of making this space you can put it on your to-do list.

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