Hey Boss, Please Don’t Bother Me, I’m Daydreaming
The next time your boss scolds you for daydreaming on your job, give him a piece of your mind and let him know that you’re actually hard at work. In a recent study our of British Columbia, researchers discovered that when we daydream, contrary to popular perception, our minds are actually hard at work, particularly in areas associated with complex problem solving. So while we may seem distracted from the immediate task at hand, our minds may actually be giving greater thought to the bigger picture, like advancing our careers and by extension, furthering the interests of the company.
Experts seem to divide the activity of the brain into two broad categories, the default network and the executive network. When we engage in easy and routine activities, our default network kicks in. This is the same area of the brain that was long believed to be responsible for daydreaming. When we challenge our minds by trying to solve problems or think things through, it is our executive network that is called to task.
Using advanced MRI technology to scan brain activity, researchers found that it was in fact the executive network that was being engaged when subjects daydreamed. Until now, scientists assumed that the two networks worked exclusively of one another, so when one was operating, the other was dormant. The recent findings seem to contradict that long held belief.
In fact, it was found that the more a person let their mind wander, the more both networks kicked into gear, leading them to conclude that when we are beating ourselves up over a challenging conundrum, we might be better off taking our mind off the problem and just letting it wander.
Some of you might have firsthand experience with this. I know I have. When faced with a difficult problem that seems to have no solution, at some point all my repeated efforts have no effect, and I end up simply flogging a dead horse, as the expression goes. After having racked my brain for an extended period, sometimes taking a step back and clearing my head allows me to resolve the situation.
And if you’re a parent, you may wonder what exactly is going on in the mind of your children when they are being dreamy and thoughtful, and as a consequence, are ignoring your pleas for obeisance. Maybe the thing to do is to let them have their moment inside their head and let them work things out; unless, of course, you have to be somewhere and the clock is ticking, which always seems to be the case with kids.
Personally, I spend a an inordinate amount of my waking hours daydreaming, and apparently I’m not alone. Most of us spend as much as a third of hour waking hours in la-la land, and now it seems for good reason.
After all, while it goes without saying that certain task demand that we focus and pay serious attention to what we are doing (like say, for instance, operating a chainsaw or performing surgery) and a wandering mind could be tantamount to disaster, most of our working day is spent doing more mundane tasks. Maybe taking a little mini-vacation from the banality of it all isn’t such a bad idea. Besides, giving you a break and refreshing your mind, it might actually help clarify the big picture and help you do your job.
The question is, will your boss understand and appreciate your expertise in daydreaming, and if not, how can you utilize it as a selling point on your resume?