Every office has that one person who just has a knack for coming up with the most brilliant ideas, which impresses your boss every time. Or that friend who is super artistic and whimsical. What’s their secret? Meditating? Drugs? Drinking matcha every day? According to a new study published in Psychological Science, the secret behind being more creative is even more simple: daydreaming.
It turns out that escaping the everyday—even for a few minutes—can actually lead to more effective problem-solving in the real world, according to the study, which tracked 276 college students over a one-week period.
To do that, researchers checked in with the participants via electronic devices eight times a day to record their thoughts, and then assessed their focus with tests in a traditional lab setting.
It turns out that escaping the everyday—even for a few minutes—can actually lead to more effective problem-solving in the real world.
What they found was that high levels of daydreaming does not mean you’re a flake—in fact, the most effective test-takers in the lab zoned out on the reg, but they also knew when they had to buckle down and concentrate, like in class or during a meeting. So, having your head in the clouds can be correlated with higher performance, as long as it’s not intruding when you’re in get-stuff-done mode.
One reason why researchers think daydreaming works is that allows time to fantasize about ideal outcomes and visualize how they would happen. Then, you can help put it to practice. Also, people who are more open to playful fantasies may be more likely to think outside the box—another creativity win.
If you find yourself dreaming away as you sit with your coffee in the morning or drifting off to sleep, it might pay off to run with it—you never know what it could lead to. (Just don’t try it during an important work call.)
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