Another summer is just a couple of days away and we are, as always, eagerly waiting for the moment we can relax and let our minds wander far away from work, its challenges, and connected commitments.
It is now the perfect time for daydreaming and getting the most out of it, thus being aware of this process and how it helps us to become more creative.
Humans have daydreamed for thousands of years, and yet, these days, spare moments are filled with using our smartphones and other devices—scrolling through social media, listening to podcasts, responding to emails—leaving us little time to let our minds wander. This may seem a small change, but its effect could be hindering your ability to come up with fresh, innovative ideas.
Our brains are at their most innovative time when they are resting, so why aren’t we making time for quiet reflection?
Recently some American and British flight-connected authorities (security and the like) issued a new ban. Passengers flying from certain areas of North Africa and the Middle East can no longer carry electronics larger than a smartphone on flights.
Royal Jordanian airlines cheekily responded by offering travelers “12 things to do on a 12-hour flight with no tablet or laptop.” Number 11 was “analyze the meaning of life.”
Letting your mind wander can lead to better and more creative problem solving, say some researchers. Anecdotal links between daydreaming and creativity abound – from Einstein to Nobel Prize-winning chemists to the inventor of the Post-it note. Many of the world’s great thinkers have espoused the benefits of giving your mind a rest. And perhaps you, too, have noticed that your best ideas come in the shower or while out for a walk
When your mind is able to wander, it is accessing memories, emotions, and random bits of stored knowledge. “Daydreaming is how we access our big-picture state of mind,” one scientist says. “When you’re in a daydreaming state of mind, you can visualize or simulate your own version of events.”
This visualization can help us gain a new perspective on a problem or link to previously disjointed thoughts to come up with an original idea. There is also a belief that any leader in any area is a big daydreamer.
The good news is that some people are already self-regulating their overuse of playing with social media or other electronic devices. Some went off Facebook after realizing they were spending too much time on the site during their in-between work moments.
Some people report that they stopped taking their phone or computer to meetings when possible, and it’s helped them access better and more unique ideas.
We should give ourselves the time to exercise, get good sleep and take midday breaks—like heading to a nearby park with just some paper and a pencil.
It is worth taking a short while during your summer break to consider some of these ideas and allow yourself to get back with a fresh and clear mind.