Become a Writer Today

How to Train Your Brain to be More Creative with Psychologist Phil Dobson

March 17, 2021 Bryan Collins
Become a Writer Today
How to Train Your Brain to be More Creative with Psychologist Phil Dobson
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Become a Writer Today
How to Train Your Brain to be More Creative with Psychologist Phil Dobson
Mar 17, 2021
Bryan Collins

How many times have you been in the full flow of writing or editing, only to be distracted by the doorbell or a phone notification or 101 other things? And how long does it take you to then get back into that flow?

My guest on this episode is psychologist and author Phil Dobson. He's an expert in teaching people how to tap into their creativity, manage their distractions, and build resilience.

Phil also explains how we can work smarter, not harder, and the importance of having a solid early morning or evening routine.

You can learn more about working on your creativity and how to work smarter not harder in Phil's online course, The Working Smarter Programme.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • Three steps to better creativity
  • Using The Disney Technique to realise and tap into your potential
  • What happens when you allow yourself to stop, step back and give your brain some space
  • Your relationship with your mobile phone
  • Prioritizing your personal and work-life


Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

How many times have you been in the full flow of writing or editing, only to be distracted by the doorbell or a phone notification or 101 other things? And how long does it take you to then get back into that flow?

My guest on this episode is psychologist and author Phil Dobson. He's an expert in teaching people how to tap into their creativity, manage their distractions, and build resilience.

Phil also explains how we can work smarter, not harder, and the importance of having a solid early morning or evening routine.

You can learn more about working on your creativity and how to work smarter not harder in Phil's online course, The Working Smarter Programme.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • Three steps to better creativity
  • Using The Disney Technique to realise and tap into your potential
  • What happens when you allow yourself to stop, step back and give your brain some space
  • Your relationship with your mobile phone
  • Prioritizing your personal and work-life


Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Phil :
Step one, get better at reframing problems. There's that quote, attributed to Einstein, "If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I'd spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask." That's enormously valuable just to pause on, what's the nature of the problem? What problem am I actually trying to solve?

Introduction:
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today, podcast with Bryan Collins. Here you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan :
Can you train yourself more creative or more importantly, can you train your brain to become more creative? Hi there my name is Bryan Collins and welcome to Become a Writer Today podcast. And that's the question I wanted to answer in this week's interview. Now as a writer I've often considered, what are the different things or strategies that I can use to get into a state of creative flow faster? And for me, the biggest one is eliminating distractions. So right now I'm working or finalizing edits to a parenting book. And I find that it takes me 10 or 15 minutes to get into the right frame of mind for editing this particular parenting book. Because if I get distracted by one of the kids at the door or by noise downstairs or by the postman calling or by 101 other things going on in the house, it takes me in another a few minutes to get back into editing the book and I might just put it off and do something else altogether.

Bryan :
So what do I do? Well, eliminate as many notifications on my computer as possible. I also put my phone in a different room and I'm a big believer in the Pomodoro Technique. So I use the app Freedom, which disables access to distracting websites and social media. And I set a timer for 25 to 30 minutes. And I use that to focus on editing one particular chapter in the book. And when the timer sounds I'll a two to three minute break. I usually go downstairs and make a cup of tea, tend to drink a lot of tea when I'm stressed or when I'm editing. And then I'll come back upstairs turn the time around again and go for another 30 minutes. And I'll do it as three or four times and once I've got four sessions in for the day, I'll typically move on and do something else.

Bryan :
I might go for a run or I might meditate and that's actually something we talk about in this week's podcast interview, or I might even go for a nap or I'll just work on some part of the business that's not necessarily explicitly creative. And I find that this helps me focus and this helps me manage distractions. Now that's just me perhaps there are other things that are distracting you, but I would encourage you to think about what ways are you training your brain to respond to distractions that are taking you away from your writing, and what ways are you training your brain so that you can focus on your manuscript or on your first draft. Now in this week's podcast interview, I interviewed Phil Dobson he's the author of The Brain Book. And he runs the popular website BrainWorkshops, which offers a number of different courses, all about training yourself to become more creative and productive.

Bryan :
And there are a number of approaches that he recommends people use. Meditation is one and I meditate once or twice a day. And I find it acts like a mental reset. Managing distractions is another, which is why I talked about how I manage distractions at the start of the show. Phil is also a trained hypnotherapist, funnily enough, I've actually had hypnotherapy as well myself over the past 12 months or so, which helps you manage getting through the pandemic and also work on different parts of the business. And that's something we talk about in this week's podcast interview, Phil also explains how people can develop resilience and how we can work smarter but not harder. Phil also talks about the importance of having a solid early morning or evening routine. And he explains why writers and why creative work can be a little bit challenging and what we should do about it. But before we get over to this interview with Phil.

Bryan :
If you enjoy the show, please can you leave a short review on the iTunes store or wherever you're listening because more reviews and more ratings will help more listeners find the show. Now with that, let's get over to Phil and I started by asking him to introduce himself and his company BrainWorkshops.

Phil :
Absolutely. Thanks, Bryan. And thanks for the invitation to be with you today it's a real pleasure. So my name's Phil Dobson, I'm the founder of BrainWorkshops and as you rightly said author of The Brain Book. So really I spend my time not writing generally, but instead working with businesses and business leaders. Helping them apply what we know about the brain to work smarter, helping them become more productive, more creative and more resilient. My journey when I used to be a musician I say it in the past tense and really I still am a musician, but I probably used to define myself more in terms of my musical ability. And 2007 now, so many, many years ago, I broke my ankle badly and that prompted a pivot. And I retrained as a clinical hypnotherapist set up my practice the following year in Moorgate actually just down the road from me in East London, and started treating people with the sort of things that you can probably imagine.

Phil :
So I was helping people manage their stress, helping them improve their sleep, change their behaviors. And while on the one hand it was incredibly rewarding, very stimulating, it was amazing. It also became very frustrating for me and my frustration wasn't with my clients, of course, that would be a bit out of order. But with the fact that they needed to see a specialist with what are such basic human needs, and it got me asking this question of myself why are we taught so little about our brains? How can we get to the point where a 40 year old or a 50 year old doesn't know how to sleep? Now, my degree had been psychology. So I felt, I suppose at that age anyway, at university age, that I'd done what I could to learn about my own mind. But interestingly my psychology degree was interesting, but I didn't find it particularly valuable.

Phil :
I knew how to condition a dog but not myself, and studying to be a psychotherapist was a very different experience where I suddenly found myself with this toolkit of techniques and strategies that were helping people transform their lives in as little as 60 or 90 minutes. And so basically long story short, I thought, can I deconstruct what I've learned to teach it to other people because if everyone knew what I just learned, they would be happier, they wouldn't need to see therapists. And again, it wasn't long after that that I started working with businesses, that got me into neuroscience. And again, it's going to be a decade now or more of learning about the brain and trying to deconstruct neuroscience and psychological science to become highly applicable in the workplace, and consequently having these benefits of productivity, creativity, and resilience.

Bryan :
Yeah. It's funny you bring up creativity. So last year I actually had a hypnotherapy counseling. It was to do with getting a break through on my own business. And what I was surprised by was how much personal stuff came up from the hypnotherapy coaching rather than business stuff. But the way the hypnotherapists explained it is it's not like they're separate. You need to get things right personally before you can get them right in your business. I found that the session's quite helpful and at the time I was writing a book about parenting and I was able to use some of the stories, or some of the memories he was able to unearth in the parent book.

Phil :
So was your experience with hypnosis or hypnotherapy or the sessions perhaps a lot of visualizations and imagineering techniques that were used or then utilized towards outcomes, or what was the experience like?

Bryan :
Yeah. How about 10 sessions and they were going back to a time when you felt a particular way recently, and then as a teenager, and then as a child. And then what would you say to that child, and what would you say to that teenager, and what would you say to yourself now? But I was surprised by how skeptical about different things, but I was surprised by how susceptible I was to hypnosis and how much benefit I got from it. So I walked away feeling like it was really helpful for me for one, for writing and two, just for resolving maybe issues that I didn't know were there at the time.

Phil :
Interesting. I think it has a bad reputation it's just deeply misunderstood. A lot of people's response to hypnosis or the proposal of hypnotherapy is very much about relinquishing control and about... There's almost a fundamental resistance to this idea of someone doing something to you that ultimately gives them greater control over you. And I just think that's such an unfortunate way to think about the power of your own mind. This idea that being hypnotized, it sounds like there's a subject and an object. Where really any good hypnotist and even that term I don't particularly like is really just a good facilitator of a state in someone else that they're already good at. And you having experienced it would probably know that a more practical and accessible definition of hypnosis much like meditation is a state of deep mental absorption that is often also tied with physical relaxation.

Phil :
So suddenly that opens up for people because they realize, well, number one that doesn't sound so scary. And both of those things I quite like to get better at because in focusing better that's where your productivity, even your creativity, your performance at work is held. Your ability to relax physically, well, that's why we associate these practices with improved immune function and reduced stress and reduced anxiety. And you put the two things together and it becomes an exercise in self-mastery. And then it's interesting your expectation of this process being around your business and business outcomes. And you've actually found it much more enlightening perhaps in terms of your personal narrative. And of course, if you can get good at one of those two things, if you sort yourself out the business will likely follow. I forget who it was, a quote around how you can work hard on your business and you'll make good money, you work hard on yourself and you'll make a fortune.

Bryan :
That's similar to how the coach I was working with explained it. I didn't feel like I was... or I'd lost control at any point during the session or that I'd given up control. I definitely felt very aware of what was happening during the hypnotherapy sessions. But for me one of the benefits was creativity, which I think would apply to a lot of people who like to write. But I suppose if somebody doesn't have access to that kind of coaching, how would you recommend they train their brains so that they can become more creative? Or what steps could they take?

Phil :
Great question. Firstly I think remember that you are built around creativity. I think a lot of people because their role doesn't use the word creativity, or maybe their view of themselves excludes the term, that we attribute it too readily to other people. We think about creative geniuses or we think about people in creative industries, whatever that means. Where if you think about creativity more in terms of using your imagination, solving problems, engaging in the counterfactual not what is, but what might be, we are all built that way. You don't need to spend much time with many children before you see that that's already the default state. So firstly, remember how creative you are it's how you're built. In terms of getting more creative, I think it's really valuable to deconstruct creativity into the process that is really best understood in.

Phil :
Some people break it into five steps I think the most practical way, actually, if we're just going to we haven't got long. Break it into three steps, step one, get better at reframing problems. There's that quote attributed to Einstein, "If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I'd spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask." That's enormously valuable just to pause on, what's the nature of the problem? What problem am I actually trying to solve? Now that could be relevant in terms of a business context, it could be relevant in terms of a personal problem. How will I know I've solved the problem what's stopping me? How do I know it's a problem? What would be the benefits if I did solve this problem? What advice might I give someone else with the same problem, you see all of that is just examining what you think you know about the problem, so that's a really important step to get better at.

Phil :
In terms of training in the brain it's really more about instilling a practice. Differing for a moment, your solution orientation and begin instead by challenging your assumptions and reframing the problem then step two. Step two, now you have permission to do your brainstorm. So idea generation is really in terms of the literature explained in terms of divergent thinking, and divergent thinking as the name suggests is just coming out with lots of potential ideas or solutions. So the science there is most of the literature actually on creativity tends to focus on this step. So there's an abundance of things that if you go online, you'll find in terms of work with other people, give it more time, prime your brain do alternate uses tests such as how many different ways can you think of to use a paperclip.

Phil :
It gets your brain to thinking laterally. One of the most I think potent ways to improve your divergent thinking, so step two is to do what's called shifting your perceptual position. Now for writers, this is probably more common than you might think. Seeing the problem through the eyes of different characters, quite literally. Edward de Bono and his thinking hats. Your brain has this amazing ability to examine a problem through different lenses, perceptual positions or simply perspectives. And again, giving it the time for that. So in a business context, given you mentioned business, an amazingly valuable technique called the Disney Method, explores your future... Now this can be done for anyone who's listening. You think about your goals, you think about your three-year plan if you have one. Spend 10 minutes examining your future through the eyes of a dreamer, and you give yourself permission to dream your entrepreneurial, you've got all the resources in the world, anything's possible and go with that.

Phil :
Now write all that down. Then spend 10 minutes thinking in terms of, "Okay, based on what's come up, what does the realist make of this? What's the plan? What's the strategy? What would you need to do to make this a reality?" Get all that down and then spend 10 minutes through the eyes of a critic. What could go wrong? What could slow you down? What might get in the way and what might the challenges be? You oscillate them between these three perceptual positions, dreamer, realist, critic, the insights.

Bryan :
Are you free writing from those perceptions in a journal of some sort.

Phil :
Writing it down, yes, free writing not so much in a kind of almost Freudian mind-mapping sort of sense. Things will come up that are actually quite explicit. And again, there will be variants, some people might like to draw pictures. But generally when you're in the dreamer state, it becomes quite visual as you give yourself that permission to dream.

Phil :
And so you're really creating your vision I suppose. So you just come down and spend for as long as you're in the state, you'd spend the same amount of time writing down. So specifically I might encourage someone to explore that space for five or 10 minutes, and then sit there on five or 10 minutes just write everything on your dream bit of paper and then you go into realist. Now, normally it helps if you stand up as you occupy the different perceptual positions and then sit back down to capture your notes, it's just an oscillation. Look it up online, The Disney Method there's lots of really valuable resources. So that's the step two. Getting your brain to think more laterally to generate ideas is about shifting your current state or disrupting it some way. That's a kind of general way of thinking about shifting perspective, giving it time, going for a walk, again, simple stuff that we know examining the problem through the lens of someone else.

Phil :
And then step three this is when convergent thinking happens. Now that's the kind of, I suppose, more scientific term. The way we all experience this third step is when any of us have had a good idea, come in the shower, in a bath, in our sleep, on a walk, on a vacation when we're a bit drunk, isn't that fascinating. These creative shots or inspiration seem to happen in an entirely different environment to the environment in which we actually tend to do most of our work. And from a neuroscientific perspective that's explained very well through both different brain states and neuroanatomy. So divergent thinking, working quite generally I suppose if we make some general terms here tends to involve your frontal lobe prefrontal cortex, and tends to involve quite a lot of electrical activity measured through brain states or electroencephalograms.

Phil :
So your brain is really active, it's doing lots of stuff, you're executing. And then when you have a break, go for a walk, fall asleep, get in the bath, get in the shower. You give your brain time and space. What happens reliably is your brain shifts state that isn't just experienced anecdotally, but again, your brainwave frequencies tend to slow down to alpha state. Your frontal lobe becomes less dominant and what's called your default mode network becomes more active, which is more lateral in terms of brain real estate. And that state is the one that we associate repeatedly with aha moments, when these flashes of inspiration seemingly come. So how do you make this practical and applicable? Well, let's summarize what we've said. Get better at reframing problems, before you try and solve anything examine the nature of the problem. And you do that by asking questions and other people are always really helpful in that regard, then get better at divergent thinking, idea generation, have fun with it.

Phil :
Einstein referred to creativity as intelligence, having fun. So mix it up. Think about things through different perspectives. And then and this I think is critical, stop, have a break, go for a walk, leave the project, the document, your laptop, whatever you're working on. And this is a bit fluid in terms of my recommendation, how long does it take? What do you need to do? That's difficult to answer, but you need your brain to shift state. So I use walking around my local park, Victoria Park as my easiest creativity point to rapid change in my brain state. But again, there's an abundance of psychological research or the history of psychology I suppose that we attribute to good ideas coming in people's sleep. The periodic table is one, the structure of a bending atom is another, and that's why because brain states have shifted. And so that my friend is how or some of the ways you can become more creative.

Bryan :
This there's two things there that I do, I suppose touching on what you said. One is if I was writing something that's difficult, I would put it down and go out for a run down the canal near where I live. And then I find I've got more energy when you sit back down at the desk, or the other thing is I read a second or third draft before I go to sleep. And then the next morning I might wake up, and if I was having trouble with a chapter or a paragraph in the chapter it's a bit easier to fix it the next morning than plugging away at it late into the night.

Phil :
Yeah, it's interesting isn't it when there's this kind of we are so accustomed to describing our work in terms of the amount of hours we put into it. And at some point not only do you get a diminishing return, but even a negative return I think where almost with creativity in particular, you get to a point where the more you try and solve the problem, the more you inhibit the answer. And your example of really processing stuff, you've done some writing and then you almost need to delegate it to your unconscious mind, to form the associations, to make sense of it, to join the dots I suppose. And then your fresh brain comes back after a sleep and much of the top-line work has been done for you, which is that's really working smarter, isn't it? When you're doing your work, literally in your sleep.

Bryan :
So one them in your book is about the role of technology in creativity-

Phil :
Right.

Bryan :
... how would you recommend somebody manages their digital habits, so that they can focus when they need to focus and they can think of ideas when they need to think of ideas?

Phil :
Well, the word manage I think sums it all up and that perhaps prompts a question, how much do we manage our relationship with our tech? There's a potentially a very long answer here and I'm conscious that we don't have all day. I might ask the listeners some questions just off the top of my head, things that tend to come up. Did you check your phone before you got to bed this morning? Are you still on a device in the last 60 minutes before you go back to bed? How many times do you think you unlock your phone on a typical day? And whatever your answers are, is that behavior you'd recommend to someone you loved, someone whose wellbeing was your responsibility. And also is it any coincidence that you find it hard to switch off?

Phil :
Well, do you know what let's upgrade it. Your attention, how you use your attention, what you choose to focus on and how ultimately you direct your mind without getting too over the top is basically the only real tool you have, not just in terms of writing but just as a human being. And if that's true, to what degree are we intentional, to what degree do we manage? So I suppose some top tips, and again without wanting to immediately shift to here are my practical advice because I think that everyone needs to make their own sense of this. But I think notifications and alerts for most people, most of the time are entirely unnecessary. And are the single greatest reason why we can't focus, we can't switch off and we start to notice worrying correlations with use of technology, our mental health, which mental health is pretty non-negotiable whether you want to write, be creative, be productive or execute in any sort of regard.

Phil :
So I think our relationship with our mobile phones needs proper reexamination. Get your phone out of your bedroom for one because that will remove the temptation in the morning and remove the temptation in the evening, turning notifications off throughout the course of the day. And what that should do is start to make your use of your phone just more deliberate. When you are working so whether you're... It doesn't really matter what you're working on, again, notifications off and this now when you probably need them off your desktop or your other primary device as well. So if your email beeps, buzzes or even something visual top right corner, if that happens every time someone wants to get in touch with you, I think you have a problem.

Phil :
And I don't mean an emotional problem, I mean you have a massive inhibitor to any forms of creative or productive output. So try to create the conditions, this is the goal, create the conditions where you can create depth of focus that you can sustain for... Well, go for an hour. I think minimum you've discussed the Pomodoro Technique haven't you I noticed in one of your episodes-

Bryan :
Yeah. Yeah. I had Francesco Cirillo we interviewed him for an episode recently.

Phil :
So at least 25 minutes anyone with the exception of emergency physicians, firefighters and new parents I think can last 25 minutes without the outside world being able to demand their attention when they want it, that's the kind of the question we're asking. If someone wants your attention, who should choose when they get it? Now most people realize the answer must be them to get any productive work done. And if that is true, there is a natural correlate to that, which is all notifications need to go off. Like I say there's a big chat around this. The other question as well, that often is met with quite sheepish yeses is do you find yourself watching TV or Netflix or whatever equivalent that we know have, but your mobile phone is still in your hand.

Bryan :
Certainly guilty of that.

Phil :
Right. To be honest, I won't pretend I'm perfect, but 80, 90% of people will say, "Yeah, of course." And it's like my goodness. Think back to the old school, when we only had books and printed media. The equivalent really is from your brain's perspective. And really from a decision-making perspective, the equivalent is having one book in your left hand, but it's not very compelling so you've got another book or a magazine in your right hand. It just seems bizarre, and it really is. Now the thing there, we talk about brain training, neuro-plasticity, your brain is a muscle it responds to your environment and in particular how you use it. Now that is exciting and it's empowering. What people are doing when they are repeatedly shifting their attentional gaze from TV to phone or let's face it probably even from document to email inbox, same thing really.

Phil :
As you continue and repeatedly shift your gaze, you are training your brain to be distracted. So it's really no surprise that the brain becomes ever less good at sustaining your attention because it's just done ever less. So this stuff, like I said, I feel that this conversation is becoming urgent. Whether we talk about workplace productivity, we talk about personal wellbeing. We talk about the wellbeing of kids and future generations. We talk about our attention, our problem solving as a culture, this warrants reexamination. Now, everyone listening to this today I think would be well-served in spending just five minutes thinking, "Do you know what? What would I recommend to someone that I did care about." One change could I make starting today just based on some of the things I've mentioned.

Bryan :
I'm always telling the kids to turn off notifications on their phone because they're bad for them.

Phil :
I think they're bad for all of us. They create by design a fight or flight response. They demand attention and it trains us not only to be distracted, but actually to be emotionally dependent on this dopamine fix, which again is addiction by design. It's dangerous.

Bryan :
You mentioned the Pomodoro Technique and training your brain, have you any thoughts on binaural beats or using white noise to get into a state of flow for 30 or 60 minutes?

Phil :
Yeah. So for listeners that don't know about binaural beats, the top-line concept is I mentioned alpha state. The idea that your brainwave frequencies change over the course of a day, and your brain states measured by brainwave frequencies will be more or less useful for different types of cognitive output. So can you play your brain a particular frequency with a goal of it in training to that frequency. So if I wanted my brain to shift to alpha state that's let's say eight hertz or eight cycles per second, could I play my brain eight hertz and it changed over time. Now one challenge is the human ear can only hear from 20 hertz up. So you need to do this clever trickery with a different tone in your left and right ear. So you can generate an eight hertz tone in your brain, you can do that with success.

Phil :
The challenge is when you really get empirical, what does the literature say around the efficacy of it affecting your brainwave frequencies? And the jury is still a little bit out, in terms of the research there does seem to be a case where the sleeping brain can be playing some frequencies, theta in particular. So now we're looking between four and seven hertz, and that may have application for facilitating learning while we sleep, that's pretty cool. In terms of my own experience, again, as a musician that then turned into brain, this is something I was fascinated by probably 15 years ago and I make my own binaural beat frequencies actually.

Bryan :
You do. All right.

Phil :
Well I have done it's not something I use very regularly and I have found with certain, again, alpha... So between eight and 10 hertz, I do find it becomes facilitative in helping me shift state. And some of the artifacts, I suppose, the things that you might notice, and you might have noticed this Bryan when you were being hypnotized, how dissociative it becomes and how your sense of your physical body starts to reduce.

Phil :
That might sound quite hippy, but it happens all the time is you're reading a good book. The weight of the book becomes less apparent because you're focused on the story. So our attention focuses on one thing always to the exclusion of other things. So losing the sense of your body actually happens all the time. Bring your attention to your feet, suddenly your attention of your feet has increased. So listening to alpha, I did notice that my sense of my hands as physical objects would reduce. In terms of what did it do to my brain state or my subsequent cognitive performance. Obviously, sample of one, very difficult to get empirical in terms of my subjective awareness. I find generally that I certainly don't feel I can work while listening to the tones. So it's always a goal of listening to the tones and then using subsequently the state that it generates.

Phil :
And again, I tend to find that if there is an effect it's fairly short lived. But I think like all this sort of stuff have a go, I don't see any risks in it like there might be with other techniques that people use in terms of things like nootropics, smart drugs is a pretty safe way to experiment with your mind and with your consciousness. I think that if you really want to get good at shifting brain state and really mastering your mind attention consciousness, then that's where I'd recommend meditation, mindfulness and these kinds of much more, well, more ancient techniques and practices that enable you to really examine the nature of consciousness and the experienced mind.

Bryan :
Yeah. So I've experimented binaural beats, but I personally prefer using ambient music or white noise. Like for example, there's a great album by Joe Baker on Spotify it's just rainfall.

Phil :
Oh nice.

Bryan :
So I'll probably listen to that with noise canceling headphones.

Phil :
Well, that makes a lot of sense. It's not something I've explored, but certainly there's research about the background cafe noise, for example, how that can be really useful for people. And it's just the difference between having complete absence of sound, which doesn't really happen because there's always these little spikes as a car goes past, or there's a... I live in London, so there's an abundance of traffic noise and just unpredictable auditory stimuli. If you have a bed, albeit low white noise was the perfect example white and pink noise. You're providing a bed that somehow eliminates these spikes of activity, and consequently it gives a blanket of safety in a sense that would make sense for a lot of people to work. It's funny, a lot of people ask me how does music affect one's productivity and it's entirely subjective.

Phil :
For someone like myself who spent decades writing, producing music, really any music on my brain I've trained to be hyper attentive to that. So I'm analyzing the high hat and the kick drum, and I'm thinking about the compression on the bass guitar. And so I find it very hard to focus properly, certainly on executive tasks, the difficult stuff with any music at all. But there'll be just as many people who find certain playlists or as you do ambient textural beds enormously useful, partly just as I said because it helps eliminate background unwanted stuff.

Bryan :
So you've created a couple of courses in your academy field based on your book, would you be able to tell the listeners about them?

Phil :
Yeah. Interesting. So the book I wrote was a bit of everything. Like I said, I've helped people or I help people improve their productivity, their creativity, their resilience, and the book was really an exercise in going, "Well, look, do you know what, what a nice project to do?" I was asked to do it so I just thought, "Well, why not?" The course that I've created, The Working Smarter Program is taking the best bits, helping people improve their focus, improve their prioritization and basically trying to share what is the science of getting eight hours of work done in just six hours. So it's less of the resilience stuff, but instead really trying to equip people with a toolkit to help them get clarity on their goals and their objectives, both life and career to really master their prioritization.

Phil :
One of the problems of us being perpetually so busy as we seemingly all are, is something's that's become ever harder. Prioritizing your work, prioritizing your life, I find it hard to focus, I find it hard to switch off. So it's really a digital program solving all of those problems, giving people better access to their productive brain, I suppose, and ultimately giving them the science to working smarter. So it's up online.

Bryan :
Where should listeners go if they want to learn more about you or your course.

Phil :
Well go to the website that's the best place. So www of course, brainworkshops, brainworkshops, all one word .co.uk. And from there, you'll see lots of videos, lots of free content, meditation audio as well. And if you click on the academy tab, that will also take you to the online learning and there's the portal that you can access all of that stuff to.

Bryan :
Yeah. I'd recommend your videos I was watching a few before our interview.

Phil :
Nice.

Bryan :
Thank you Phil.

Phil :
Thanks Bryan it's been a pleasure mate. Thanks very much.

Bryan :
I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode. If you did, please leave a rating on the iTunes Store. And if you want to accomplish more with your writing, please visit becomeawritertoday.com/join. And I'll send you a free email course. Thanks for listening.