No one needs lessons in how to daydream—we all do it, some of us as much as 47 percent of the time, according to research. Most daydreaming is a fertile time when we hatch creative thoughts, and it should be encouraged, suggests researcher Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Some of the ways to spur daydreaming are to work on a boring task, take a walk, garden, even to sleep, as anyone who has awakened with the solution to a problem can attest. (When it overtakes your waking hours, maladaptive daydreaming calls for professional help, however.)
In Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, Tom and David Kelley write that “relaxed attention” is the state between meditation and hyper-focusing. After all, “our brains can make cognitive leaps when we are not completely obsessed with a challenge,” they write.
David Kelley often puts a whiteboard marker in the shower when his mind is at relaxed attention to record ideas on the glass. But you don’t have to get wet to solve a problem; the Kelleys recommend taking 20 minutes off to do something mindless and then return to your conundrum to see whether the brain has worked out the problem for itself.