We already know that the full extent of the capabilities of human brain is not fully understood. Most of us have often heard that humans only use 20% of their brain most of the time. Well here’s the best news: a wandering mind can be an exceptionally good thing. A study by Michael Kane at the University of North Carolina shows that our minds drift off task one-third of the time (surprised? Not me). You know, in a typical 8-hour work day, that’s a lot of day dreaming! The study further suggests that if our body has an urge to do this so often it might actually be a useful activity (Okay, now you have my attention). In brain scans, it has been shown that when the mind veers off-task, it utilizes the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that is involved in problem solving. This means that the ‘leisure’ mind is likely doing creative thinking (Ah –ha! I knew it!) This would explain why so many so-called “light-bulb” moments happen to scientists, artists and other problem-solvers when they are actually not applying themselves to a particular task (I am now thoroughly impressed). I would certainly advocate further study on how our brain utilizes this so-called brain downtime as it is proving to be time well spent. It’s implications to the workforce are huge. Imagine the following addendum to your current job description:
- Other duties as assigned, including staring off into space for indeterminate periods of time
- Performance management of supporting staff including attention to requisite inattentiveness
- Responsibility for ad hoc assigned projects including implementation of forced distraction.
Wow, stay tuned… (if you can).