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Mind Wandering is Beneficial

Sharpens Focus & Concentration

The Basics

WHAT: Result of studies on the benefits of mind wandering.

SOURCE: Studies by Nilli Lavie (Psychologist & Neuroscientist, UCL), Christian Oliviers and Caroline Williams

GREAT FOR: Time Management, Focus & Concentration, Productivity

About

There is a growing realisation among psychologists that we spend a lot of time daydreaming – almost 50% of the time by some measures. While we usually feel guilty about ‘wasting time’ this way, in reality allowing our mind wanders sharpens our concentration and helps us getting more things done. 

There is a catch though! Not all kind of daydreaming is beneficial for our mind. Paul Seli, a psychologist at Harvard University, has distinguished between deliberate and accidental mind wandering, and says that only the accidental kind is bad for getting stuff done.

 

Using Mind Wandering to Our Advantage

What to do when at some point during the day, we run out of steam and our mind wandering kicks in. Use it to your advantage. Allowing your mind to wander may be one of the best approaches if you are struggling to focus. 

Why not schedule it when the timing is right? People who slot in their daydreaming when they know that it won’t matter – when doing mindless admin, for example, suffer less than those whose minds skip off without their say-so.

If you give yourself permission to think about anything but work, not only it makes you feel better when wandering but also it helps to tick a few things off the mental to-do list that caused the mind to wander in the first place. The key is to give your mind just enough to do so that your brain doesn’t have the chance to look elsewhere for stimulation.

When your focus weakens it is time to take a break for mind wandering. Choose deliberate one which will help your mind to focus again.

Humour helps! 😀

We all know that no matter how much you love your job, staying focused on something difficult requires the power of ‘’will’’. According to a recent study, a good way to boost your reserves of willpower is to have a good laugh. In experiments, people who had watched a funny video tried longer and harder to complete an impossible puzzle than a control group of people who watched a video that was relaxing but not funny. The study shows that humour replenishes our reserves so effectively that workplaces should encourage a more “playful” culture.

When you’re up against it, taking a break might be the last thing on your mind. But there is a huge amount of evidence to suggest it can actually help you get more done. The challenge is working out when to take a break, for how long, and what to do. 

Due to natural variations in our cycle of alertness, we can concentrate for no longer than 90 minutes before needing a 15-minute break. How about deep focus music during the break or focus on sound. Quick total concentration on breathing is powerful too. Try to avoid stress concentration. 

In conclusion, whenever you struggle with staying focused, it’s time to take a break from what you need to focus on. During your time out, let your mind wander while listening or watching something funny or meaningful or empowering. It’s usually enough to restore your high level of concentration.

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