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Day-Dreaming Boosts Productivity

Posted On - 15/04/2016 08:02:42

A wandering mind is common enough - but is day dreaming bad?. Sometimes referred to as Who hasn't found themselves day-dreaming? Suddenly come-to? Yeah?

A wandering mind is common enough. Sometimes referred to as "task-unrelated thought" (yuk!) it's clearly a bit of a no-no. After all, if you've slipped away, you're not getting on.

Day-dreaming means your productivity's shot and your time management's in the dog-house. All because you couldn't keep focussed. Your fault, you must do better. But is it so bad? Is it your fault? Why does it happen? What can you do about it? Like to use your attention better? Read on…

Pay attention!

Easy to say isn't it? Then you snap out it. You've been miles away! If only it was as easy to do. Well, it's not and it's never going to be. It's not how we work.

Our brains are designed to keep switching between things – there are parts of it devoted to doing just that. Why? Survival: staying focussed on just one thing is much more likely to end badly. Focussing on many… somewhat better. But think: this isn't necessarily bad – it's perfect for driving. For doing stuff that involves things changing. For concentrating on a computer repair? For completing a build? Maybe not…


We've written about this before - about how we stop noticing things. This matters when it comes to thinking about signage and displays. People notice them when they're new. But soon after - adaption. This is why they need changing every month or two. Our brains want new and different things so we stop seeing what's lost its novelty. It's our survival instincts in action.

What's all this got to do with productivity and time management? Not much. But it helps explain things we've said in blogs like "Better Retailing – Shop Displays" and "How to Design a Window Display". But we've wandered off topic...

Disobedient mind

Your mind wanders: you were working on Mr Smith's laptop then… Damn! You snap out of thinking about – well it doesn't matter – you're not thinking about what you should.

He's coming in this afternoon, it's still in bits and you still haven't fitted the new screen. Concentrate: get on, goddammit! Stop thinking about… Jings, you've just done it again! Why?

Psychologists call it "post suppression rebound" and it hinges on the how we go about NOT thinking about things. To check if you're not thinking about something, you have to think about it. Bizarre? Maybe, but it has some pretty interesting consequences for improving your time management.

For the avoidance of doubt

There are two things to master if you're to tame your mind. Two things that will boost productivity and make you a time management supremo. The first is more obvious, the second not.

If you need to think creatively, make complicated decisions, plan and co-ordinate, interruptions are a real issue. Now you can't stop yourself getting distracted. But what you can do is remove distractions. So, if your email alerts are on, you'll be distracted by the first ping or screen message you get. If your phone is on, the moment it rings… There're unavoidable - the alarms are set.

And that's the clue – the first thing to do is turn them off - the distractions disappear! You've taken a step to regain control. But what about just getting distracted? What about when your mind wanders? That's where the second thing comes in.

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