How to Manage Daydreaming While at Work
November 23, 2021
Monica is a New York-based pilot. She flies private jets and gets to go up in the air almost every day, her absolute favorite thing to do in the world. Seven months ago, she married another pilot who she met in an aeronautics school. They had been together for three years when she became pregnant with their first baby. She was four months pregnant when they got married ---the couple’s happiest day shared with the people they love the most.
Monica lives on that daydream every day. She would visit it a number of times in a day, reminiscing the good old days when she was still single, carefree, and could do anything she wanted in the world. But even back then, she was also stuck in pilot school. Her teachers would call her out when she stares in the abyss and slowly falls asleep in class. But when Monica became a first-time mom and had to stay home to take care of the baby for a while, this young, carefree version of her filled her daydreams. Before she knew it, Monica was living in her past, flying planes every day even while at home. Daydreaming took her mind away from the monotonous days of her stay-at-home life.
Contrary to popular belief, daydreaming is actually good for one’s health. It helps relieve a person’s boredom in finishing a task and have a more focused mindset once ready to return to work. Daydreaming can boost creativity as it taps into one’s subconscious, fantasizing about life elsewhere, going through the days of the past, and thinking about what the future might hold. Not only will your creativity improve but it will also give one the time and space to reflect. In line with this, daydreaming can help solve problems because it takes you to escape for a bit, to a world unbeknownst to many, and come back better, with more clarity and focus this time around.
Unfortunately, daydreaming can become your enemy. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that 61 percent of drivers who were daydreaming were found dead as compared to 14 percent of drivers who died from cell phone use during driving.
Daydreaming may also be done excessively and is a sign of a bigger mental health problem such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Daydreaming can also get you fired because it decreases productivity and alertness while on the job.
With more people working remotely, it’s easier to spiral into daydreaming nonstop. But the deadline doesn’t adjust so here are ways on how to manage or avoid daydreaming, especially when it’s crunch time that needs your full attention:
1. Perform an activity that requires little focus.
At some point of focused work, you’re bound to zone out because humans are wired to do that at least 40% of the time. The point is to ensure that you have daydreamed enough outside of work to not zone out when on it. Do an activity where you don’t need to focus that much, meaning you could do something else while doing it. Some examples are walking, hiking, or stationary biking.
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Aside from work, you may journal or paint where you can allow your mind to explore places it doesn’t normally go to.
2. Takedown notes during meetings after asking questions.
By doing this, you would stay alert during meetings and won’t make your mind wander off. You could ask questions and take down notes. These keep your mind alert and focused on the discussion. It’s a win-win situation for you because you get your questions answered and you could also offer your own suggestions and comments.
If given the opportunity, step up and volunteer to lead the discussion. When you’re in charge, there will be fewer chances to zone out.
3. Clean your workspace.
Sometimes, all it takes to be more productive is a change of scenery. If you look at your workstation and what you immediately see is clutter, your mind could easily go on overdrive about a hundred other things instead of doing focused work for the day. You don’t need to make a drastic move; just switching it up could already do the trick. Transfer your monitor to a different side which is relatively easy to do with a Single or Dual Monitor Mount from Flexispot. It can be clamped on any surface and its arms can be rotated 360 degrees. This allows for multiple configurations, whatever suits your fancy or your needs at that time.
A newly organized workstation will help your mind to focus.
4. Add distractions to increase focus.
Interestingly enough, if you add distractions, your focus could be increased. If your mind is preoccupied with one too many distractions, there will be little to no room left for daydreaming. Hear us out. For example, you are trying to finish a school project while classical music is on blast. Your mind won’t be able to entertain foreign thoughts at the moment because it is already processing your thoughts in the project and also receiving signals from the background music it is hearing. This is what cognitive psychologist Nilli Lavie refers to as building the focus muscle.
It’s normal for the human mind to entertain distractions. Meditation won’t even teach you to stop irrelevant thoughts from entering your mind; instead, an expert would simply advise you to take note of a thought as it enters, its nature, and the activity you were doing when it arrived.
As mentioned, studies back up the benefits one can get from daydreaming. These include improving creativity, relieving one from boredom, and honing problem-solving skills. The best way to deal with daydreaming is to not avoid it but to manage it. Take simple steps to change your behaviour daily to get distracted less often.
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