Why Doing Mostly Nothing at Work is OK

When you let your mind wander, you engage a brain circuit called the “default mode network” (DMN) .

Dipping into our deep storehouse of memories, ideas, and emotions plugs us into our DMN.

Which was thought of as our “Mostly Do Nothing” circuit.

Until recently.

Turns out, the “resting” DMN uses 20% of the body’s energy (compared to the around 5% that any effort will require).

Your brain can only take so much focus

The DMN flies under the brain’s conscious radar.

It’s busy activating old memories, goes back and forth between past, present, and future, and combining different ideas.

You can imagine creative solutions or predict the future, which helps better decision making.

The DMN assists in tune into other people’s thinking, which can improve team morale and communication.

In fact, excessive focus can make you lose self-control.

The energy drain can cause you to act  more impulsively.

The result:  decisions are poorly thought-out.

While people become less collaborative.

Do we Focus or unfocus?

Since we spend 46.9% of our days with our minds wandering away from the task at hand, we crave the ability to focus.

Recent research says that both focus and unfocus are vital.

The brain operates optimally when it toggles between focus and unfocus,

This allows you to develop resilience, enhance creativity, and make better decisions too.

So how do we focus AND unfocus during the day?

Try using positive constructive daydreaming (PCD) to activate this circuit.

Sound weird?

Studies have demonstrated that the mind obliquely solves tough problems while daydreaming.

Often while taking a shower.

4 steps to enhance constructive daydreaming:

  1. Choose a low-key activity:

This can be knitting, gardening or casual reading.

  1. Imagine something playful or wishful:  

Wander into the recesses of your mind.

  1. Take a nap:

Consider authorized napping.

When your brain is in a slump, your clarity and creativity are down.

After a 10-minute nap, studies show that you become much clearer and more alert.

Good news for creative people :  you will likely need a full 90 minutes for complete brain refreshing.

  1. Pretend to be someone else:

Educational psychologists, Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar found that people who try to solve creative problems are more successful if they behave like an eccentric poet than a rigid librarian.

When in a creative block, try a different identity on.

It may get you out of your own head, and allow you to think from another person’s perspective.

Via: HBR