To our list of misconceptions about the face of real productivity, we can now add the following, from a study published recently by the National Academy of Sciences:
"Daydreaming is an important cognitive state where we may unconsciously turn our attention from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives."
Presuming that "problems in our lives" includes "problems in our work lives", it appears that daydreaming is a technique having great potential value for business. That almost sounds laughable. But with training budgets slashed, business leaders are in no position to ignore such an economical high-value learning opportunity.
The research, conducted in Canada, supports my strongly held belief that letting go of a problem is often the best first step towards solving it. As a practical matter, our minds don't normally wander until they have someplace better to go than where they are – someplace more peaceful, exciting, comforting, fulfilling. And that's simply not possible in a work environment where the task is in your face 24/7.
So the first step for any business wanting to capitalize on this research has to be taking the foot off the gas. Maybe even stopping the vehicle and enjoying the trees and the birds for a little while. Doing that once would be fun. But doing it repeatedly, as a core business practice, would be ambitious to say the least. It would also be transforming. What a great opportunity for these challenging times!
Now I'm sure you've already thought of some great reasons why this approach would be impractical, or even suicidal, in your case. I want you to know that I find that encouraging because, to me, it just shows how big the opportunity is.