Article: You’re Dreaming! How Can Daydreaming Be

You’re staring out your office window…lost in thought
about your upcoming dinner party…when you jerk back
to reality: “Oops, where was I?” you think, as you look
down once again at the report on your desk. You’ve been

Daydreaming can be a real productivity bandit, especially
when you’re supposed to be focusing on a higher-priority
project. Excessive daydreaming can waste precious time
that could be better spent on other things. But
daydreaming isn’t always bad. There’s a difference
between true daydreaming as the brain’s response to
overload or boredom and thinking time that may lead to
promising ideas.

How do you ensure daydreaming time is productive time?

* Don’t use daydreaming to procrastinate. Daydreaming
can be a good tool for transitioning to a new project during
the day. It gives your brain a chance to change gears.
Figuratively, your mind puts away the file on the last task,
takes a break, and gets ready to open a new file and begin
work. However, when you find your mind wandering
when you’re supposed to be concentrating on a task, self-
discipline is required to stay focused.

* Select your designated “daydreaming place.” Some of
my best ideas come to me when I’m flying, when my body
and brain are still. Taking time in a place with no
distractions gives your brain the opportunity to discover
creative ideas and new solutions to problems. You may
find walking the dog, washing dishes, driving in the car,
exercising, or reading the perfect time to develop new
processes or plan projects.

* Spend an appropriate amount of time. For the most
effective brainstorming, choose a place or activity that
takes no less than 15 minutes and no more than 60
minutes. You want your brain to have time to rummage
through the closets of your mind, but not so much time
that you’re wasting time unnecessarily.

* Approach your daydreaming place with purpose. Before
you go to your daydreaming place, have a problem ready
to mull over in your mind. Without the normal
distractions, your brain will be free to explore new
possibilities. By the end of your walk or plane ride, you
may have discovered an innovative solution to that issue.

* Use paper to capture the results of daydreaming. By
writing down your ideas, you won’t immediately forget
them, and you can see them all at one time. Now you can
look for relationships among your thoughts. Ask
questions such as, “What causes X?” “What are the results
of X?” “With what things is X related?” “What’s behind
this?” “Is this leading anywhere else?” “Who else might be
affected?” I like to use a mind map with clusters of items,
details, examples, and lines connecting them.

People don’t often allow themselves the opportunity to
think about challenging situations, because they’re going
ninety miles an hour all day long. And our culture and
current work ethic doesn’t condone thinking time.
However, when you follow the tips above, daydreaming
can synthesize the volumes of information that flow across
your desk, the phone lines, and through your brain every

(C) Copyright 2003 Laura Stack, MBA, CSP. All rights
reserved. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted in
your organization or association newsletter, provided the
following credit line is present:

"Laura M. Stack, MBA, CSP, is "The Productivity PRO," (R)
helping people leave the office earlier, with less stress, and
more to show for it. She presents keynotes and seminars
on time management, information overload, and personal
productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or
[email protected]."