George Costanza was onto something


Maybe George was onto something when he built a bed under his desk whilst working for the Yankees.

Australia is a nation built on the back of hard work and sweat. This attitude built our magnificent country into what it is today. But unfortunately, for us to continue to prosper, this attitude has to change.

In order to stay relevant and compete internationally, we must redefine what ‘work’ means. No longer can we see three workmen resting on their shovels by the side of a road and say ‘lazy bludgers, why don’t they do some work’. Just because we don’t see ‘activity’ we can’t assume they aren’t working. What if they were standing there assessing if the hole was deep or wide enough to fit the pipe into it. Is that not work?

Linking work to activity is why those Google Isolation Pods haven’t taken off in Australia. Whilst we think they would be good, we would label anyone who spent time in them as lazy buggers.

If we are to continue to grow, and in particular be an innovative nation, we must redefine work to include ‘thinking’ as well as ‘doing’.

This is not simply me saying this… it’s science.

Neuroscience tells us that one of the ways to access the creative parts of the brain is to manage the brains activity. For instance, Alpha brain waves are present in deep relaxation and usually when the eyes are closed, when you’re slipping into a lovely daydream or during light meditation. It is an optimal time to program the mind for success and it also heightens your imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration. Think about when you get your best ideas. Is it when you’re driving, exercising, walking, sitting on a train, just before you nod off or simply sitting on the toilet? I bet it’s never when the boss is standing before a whiteboard pressuring you to ‘throw ideas at him’.

So if your job requires an element of imagination, visualisation, memory, learning or concentration, wouldn’t it make sense to take some time out, find a comfortable spot and close your eyes for 15 minutes? It would, but we don’t do it because of our misguided sense of what work is.

This week with the help of my very forgiving wife, I did an experiment of my own. I moved our bed into my study for a week. Whenever I got stuck on an idea, article or proposal I laid on the bed, closed my eyes and just thought. In between interruptions such as ‘aren’t you supposed to be working’ and ‘what’s dad doing in the middle of the day’, I discovered that 10 minutes of Alpha time was the equivalent at least 30 minutes of frustration staring blankly at my keyboard.

I urge you to try a bit of Alpha time next time you’re stuck for an idea. And if you’re a boss, I urge you to redefine what work is and make it ok for people to ‘think’. I guarantee that instead of extending timelines to accommodate a bit of Alpha time, you’ll shorten them due to the increased creativity and innovation you will get from your employees.

If you would like to know more about how this subject can help your staff be more productive, contact Nathan at Nathan Burke Consulting.


Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.

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