Remember in school when you would get in trouble by the teachers for zoning out in class? Do you now find yourself at your office desk staring out your window, thinking of anything other than what's on your to-do list?

Good news: your penchant for daydreaming is not taking away from your work. In fact, it is highly likely that daydreaming could be making a positive contribution to your time in the office, at home, and in life.

According to a pair of Harvard psychologists, we spend nearly 50 percent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we are doing. This mind-wandering tends to be equated with laziness or lack of focus, but recent research shows that this is not the case.

Researchers maintain that daydreaming is what allows us to think of new solutions and possibilities, even when we aren't directly working on tasks or problems. This is because a daydream lets certain ideas and issues "marinate" in our unconscious minds, and can even spark insights the way regular dreams do. So if you have a problem or a question that needs to be answered, consider getting your head in the clouds.

But it's not just work-related tasks or other pressing issues that a quick daydreaming session can help you on: daydreaming can actually help with questions of self-awareness and overall life fulfillment.

Psychology researcher Kalina Christoff notes, "When you daydream, you may not be achieving your immediate goal -- say reading a book or paying attention in class -- but your mind may be taking that time to address more important questions in your life, such as advancing your career or personal relationships."

Not only can daydreaming help you sort out short-term tasks, but it can even help you better engage with long-term meaningful pursuits.

So how do you reap these rewards? Use daydreaming in your everyday life. If you are looking to gain insight into a problem or task, take a break from thinking about it, and go engage in something boring and simple instead.

Examples include: driving your car, walking around the block, or reading an article that interests you. Your mind will be distracted for the moment, and when you return to the task, you may have a creative answer that you hadn't thought of before.

And that's definitely not a bad thing.

Published on: Jul 5, 2018
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