You might think that letting your mind wander is a sign that you need to knuckle down and focus. But psychologists report that daydreaming may actually help you get more done!
An article posted on BNET explains we spend too much of our days forming mental images of catastrophes:
Serious people know we are supposed to imagine what could go wrong with our projects. That way we can plan for complications. We can fix weak spots before they result in horribly overvalued deals, delayed product launches, military campaigns gone awry, etc.
But sometimes we go too far in that direction. We spend so much time thinking through what can go wrong that we fail to spend an equal number of our 168 hours imagining what can go right. This pessimism makes us unable to see the chance opportunities that psychologists find are key to making our own luck.
In other words, we would benefit from sitting around dreaming up scenarios that would be unbelievably fantastic. Writer Laura Vanderkam offers a handful of suggestions:
- An editor says she’d like to meet to discuss book ideas; a TV producer wants to discuss pilots. What would you pitch?
- If the CEO of your company called you into her office tomorrow and said she was so impressed with your work that she wanted to put you in charge of your dream project, what you would ask for?
- If you got an unexpected $10,000 tax refund check, what would you do with it?
- A non-profit you admire asks your advice on how best to use a $100,000 grant. What would you suggest?
- Your dream client sits next to you on a cross-country flight. What would you say?
It’s true, Vanderkam points out, that these scenarios are unlikely to actually occur. Yet considering them is a productive use of time, because they help you to think strategically and tactically. Plus, it’s rather unlikely that any military campaigns are going to go awry this week as well. Even if you aren’t about to be the next Hollywood or publishing darling, almost every job requires effective story telling to sell ideas. Even if you’re not on the short list of non-profit experts, considering creative ways to leverage a defined budget is likely a valuable skill. And even if you’re scared to fly, shouldn’t you be working on the elevator pitch for the perfect customer anyway?
There’s value in being prepared for all situations. Prepare for the worst and the best things that could happen. Odds are what happens is actually going to be somewhere in that gray area, but if you’re ready for any situation, then it’s far more likely that you’re going to react in the optimal way. Any while daydreaming may not seem like the most prudent use of your time, if a conversation you went over in a daydream can lead to landing a huge new client, then wouldn’t a few minutes of staring off into space be worth it? Don’t let your daydreams be just idle hours, instead use them to prepare for situations that you may one day hope to encounter. Who knows, you may just find yourself in the very situation you’ve spent time imagining!
Here at AccelaWork, we’re big fans of daydreaming. Productivity isn’t just about the work you do, it’s about your perspective on the value of work. Still unclear about how you can best utilize this practice? Don’t hesitate to contact us today in order to learn more. Just take a few minutes to reach out to our business process consultants. We’d love to help you achieve your dreams.