As we navigate our way through the impact of the pandemic on our daily lives, our capacity to be creative will be essential to reimagining our way forward. This is the third in our series of blogs exploring simple and surprising doorways into higher creativity.

Does your mind regularly wander off? If so, don’t worry:  It turns out that daydreaming can be a sign that you’re smart—and, it’s an essential doorway into high creativity!

A scientific study looked at the brain patterns of participants who stared at a fixed point for five minutes while their brains were monitored by an MRI. Scientists saw which areas of the brain were working together. Those participants who admitted to more frequent daydreaming scored higher on tests of intellectual and creative ability and had more efficient brain systems than those who simply kept daydream time for sleep. *

This finding has massive implications for optimizing creativity and innovation in the workplace. When we daydream, brain areas linked to complex problem solving, once thought to be dormant during daydreaming, are actually more active than when we focus on a single routine task. Findings suggest the more intelligent and creative someone is, the more likely they are to daydream. Daily pressure of meetings and deadlines however, have squeezed out what scientists refer to as essential incubation for creative problem solving and innovation.

So, how can we encourage and take opportunities for daydreaming in every day life? What practices could be reinforced to create space for this essential brain state that can accelerate organizational innovation and evolution?

  1. Make it ok!

First, as leaders we need to give people permission to spend time away from the laptop and away from the task at hand. This should be easier in our increasingly virtual working arrangements.

  1. Show and tell!

Next we get to personally model and report back on the value and insights gained from taking time to reflect, ourselves. Share thoughts and realizations gained while taking a walk, engaging in a relaxing hobby or listening to music.

  1. Create space.

High-tech companies like Google protect and strongly encourage their employee’s reflection time in between meetings and work tasks. They hold shorter meetings, to allow everyone to refocus, reimagine, re-engage and reflect regularly between each scheduled period of high analytically focused block of work time.

  1. Notice and note.

Pay attention to, and make note of, thoughts and ideas you find yourself playing out in your mind. Let your mind wander in a positive direction and enjoy the ideas and images your mind conjures up. Dream about the future you want and the role you see yourself playing in it. Creative visualization is a powerful mechanism at the centre of daydreaming and is the fuel to goal achievement.

* Georgia Institute of Technology. “Daydreaming is good: It means you’re smart: Brain study suggests mind wandering at work and home may not be as bad as you might think.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2017.