Crop Rotation for the Brain

If you have half a dozen journal manuscripts in the pipeline, why would you stop working on them to write something more leisurely?  It seems pretty counter-intuitive at first glance…and successive glances.  Finishing any of those manuscripts will clearly advance towards a goal.  Leisure writing, such as a blog, will not.  Isn’t it a waste of time better spent?  These are the issues raised and questions put to me about blogging by some of my colleagues.

Perhaps the benefit of a different type of writing and pursuit will actually yield a net increase in productivity.  This approach is not unlike using crop rotation in farming to enhance fertility and avoid depletion of essential nutrients.  The crop rotation method has even been explored with antibiotics in medicine as a way to combat resistance in the ICU [1].  One could postulate that by reactivating ignored areas of your mind, challenging yourself in different ways and (ideally) allowing for reflection, you may enable yourself to organically find a solution or develop a new idea that focused brainstorming may not have produced. 

These ideas are not novel in any way and there is some tenuously connected, but fascinating, research about things like cognitive control and task switching…but I digress.  The bottom line is that reading about the possible benefit of crop rotation for the brain and putting it into practice with deadlines hanging over your head are two different things.  Forced relaxation is a tall order.   We shall see.

@kevinclauson

[1] Niederman MS. Is “crop rotation” of antibiotics the solution to a “resistant” problem in the ICU? Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997;156(4 Pt 1):1029-31