a. Percolating is the action of filtering gradually through a collection or substance.

b. Percolating is the essential second step in the creative process.

Creative work requires three legitimate steps:

  1. Taking in information — observation — idea-gathering.
  2. Giving our brains time to filter, sort, analyze, connect what we’ve taken in.
  3. Creating, building, from what we’ve gained internally.
Many people try to move directly from step 1 to step 3.


Step 2 is essential. You pour all this information into yourself. You observe. You listen. You converse. You think. You read. You hear. You read some more. Before you can move to producing a good creative work, you need to let your system run these thoughts through the filter.


c. Something that seems like the total opposite of productivity but is actually essential for it.


d. A third option when we’re frozen between waiting for inspiration and getting derailed by distraction. Percolating is a state of being rather than an action; it’s not struggling to create, but it’s also not procrastinating or avoiding the work.


 e. A way of processing the inputs, usually accomplished by
  • anything that allows you to stop pulling information in and focus on something entirely different: bath, walk, bed, gym, chores, sports, gardening, etc. Something physical works best, a routine task. Housework is great. Cooking, chopping vegetables, sweeping the floor. Leisure stuff is great. Playing ball outside with the kids, laying in the hammock, taking a walk.
  • limiting the mental input during this time (i.e. listen to music, not podcasts; soak in the bath, don’t read in the bath…).
  • relaxing, focusing on what you’re doing, and letting your brain  subconsciously sort through all that inflow.
f. An essential practice for knowledge work and/or creative work.