5 Benefits of Letting Your Mind Wander at Work

When they are at work, many people feel like they need to devote all their time to productivity. When you’re on the clock, it’s your responsibility to get things done. This goes for owners and employees alike, especially those in the habit of working harder, not smarter.

However, therein lies the issue. Humans are not necessarily programmed to concentrate and perform to their potential for extended periods. In a typical eight-hour day, any given individual can expect five or six hours of peak performance at best – and that relies on having taken regular breaks and spaced out the commitment. If you take the opportunity to let your mind wander, even when you feel like you should be working, you’ll soon find that it is possible to get more quality work done in five hours than you used to do in eight.

Here are five benefits of clearing your head and thinking about anything but work, even when you’re in the office:

1. An Opportunity to Focus On the Bigger Picture

When there’s a lot to do, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with doing rather than thinking. In any business, it is essential not to lose sight of not only what you’re doing but why. If you’re in charge, then the direction of the business relies on your ideologies. If you’re an employee, there should always be a reason for doing what you’re doing.

By taking a few minutes to think of anything but the task at hand, you can zoom out from the screen and consider the impact you’re having. This, in turn, may spark new ideas and inspire opportunities, ensuring you’re working on what matters and not just going through the motions.

2. A Time to Get Creative With Your Routine

Routines are an essential part of productivity, but there’s always a chance that they can stifle creativity. Inspiration comes in all forms, from better ways to do what you’re working on to potentially doing something else that will have a far more significant impact. By letting go of what you’re thinking of at the time, a clear head can open up new opportunities outside of repeating the same things over and over. After all, as they say, if you do the same thing repeatedly, you can only expect the same results!

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3. A Different Way to Engage the Brain

When a computer starts performing slowly, we restart it. You can do the same with your brain, even in the middle of the working day. One reason why humans can only operate at their potential for a certain number of hours is their memory clogs up with the task at hand.

A quick mental reboot means doing something else that engages your brain. That could be reading something unrelated to the work at hand or playing a simple game like Spider Solitaire Challenge. These activities ensure that your mind will not slow to a halt but will switch gears. When it’s time to get back to work, the brief change in activity will put you in good stead for a renewed mentality.

4. A Chance to Relieve Stress

Virtually every job in the world comes with some degree of stress. There is always something at the back of the mind nagging away at us, from deadlines to a desire to perform and exceed expectations. By letting your mind wander, you have the chance to think happier thoughts, directly tackling the negative ones in the process.

When it’s time to get back to what you’re doing, the stress and negativity will be even further from your mind. This ensures that you won’t be wasting brainpower on worrying and can instead devote it to higher productivity levels.

5. An Easy Way to Pass the Time

If we are sincere, even the most committed workers don’t always want to be there. Those that are committed to making the most of their time need a break just as much as anyone else. On those days when you cannot wait for the clock to reach finish time, letting your mind wander is as good a way to pass the time as any, especially with the associated benefits.

Anyone that wishes to reach peak productivity should get out of the habit of feeling like random thoughts are unproductive. Regularly disassociating yourself from the task at hand can improve performance when it’s time to return to it. While it’s never a great idea to daydream the day away, short bursts of empty thoughts can be the difference between a productive day and hours spent simply going through the motions.

Dorian Koci

Dr. Dorian Koçi is a historian, Director of National Historical Museum of Albania and lecturer in Tirana State University, Faculty of History and Philology and New York University of Tirana.