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The Good Things About Daydreaming That No One Will Tell You , So I Will

The Good Things About Daydreaming That No One Will Tell You , So I Will

As a daydreamer myself, I know all about the positives. Unfortunately, the stereotypical daydreamer is often portrayed as that guy or girl sitting in a classroom, blankly staring out a window with no regard for anything his or her teacher is saying.

The reality is completely different. Daydreamers might miss a detail here or there, but those who do it often gain one thing that is frequently missing in society: imagination. I created so many stories in my head, as a kid and now as an adult, that I absolutely have to write them down sometimes. At times, the impulse becomes so unbearable that I’ll write something, anything. Not only does daydreaming compel you to create interesting fictional tales, but it’ll develop your mind, since you’re always imaging new worlds, situations, figures, and stories. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Below you’ll find a list of a handful of the benefits that daydreaming has.

1. It makes you a better thinker.

Daydreaming is closely tied to reading. Those who are illiterate, or rarely read books, are less likely to have the same thirst for knowledge and imaginative capacity that fuels daydreaming when compared to their bookworm counterparts. According to author Neil Gaiman, when reading “we exercise our imaginations.” In turn, when daydreaming, your brain wrestles with these thoughts and improves itself.

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In that same article linked above, Gaiman talks about how companies like Apple are filled with imaginative thinkers, and that one of the unifying factors tying them all together was that they read science fiction as children. Not surprising, in my opinion, as these books really make you think about our future and how we can improve society in the present. In other words, they make you unsatisfied with what we have right now and more likely to find ways to improve.

Perhaps this explains why daydreaming turns on the brain’s problem-solving functions. You aren’t thinking about random things; you’re trying to rectify an issue that you’re having. Without big dreamers, what kind of world would we live in today? The answer is: a bleak one.

2. It makes you more empathetic.

According to the experts, your brain either focuses on analysis or empathy, depending on the situation. Both have their uses, as the former will help you get work done and the latter will assist you in dealing with people.

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If you have trouble connecting with other humans, take note: studies have shown that daydreamers have more empathy than others. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially given what I talked about in regard to how reading and daydreaming are closely tied. When you are constantly thinking about different scenarios and trying to solve complex human issues in your head, you’ll necessarily feel more of a connection to those around you.

3. It alleviates boredom.

This makes complete sense when you realize that daydreaming stems in large part from the fictional stories we read, and the imagination that those stories foster. The journal Psychology Today noted way back in 1987 that most people performing relatively repetitive or otherwise uninteresting tasks reverted to daydreaming to spice things up a bit. I used to do this all of the time when practicing my shooting form for basketball. Usually, that’s an insanely boring task, even if you like the sport. I made it more fun by imagining I was shooting a game-winning shot every time. I do this in the present as well, especially when I’m doing something like washing the dishes. My made-up daydream stories are way more interesting than a soapy sponge and greasy plates, let me tell ya…

4. It makes you want more.

One study published in the journal Science back in 2010 revealed that daydreamers were more likely to be unhappy while mind-wandering. Before you connect daydreaming to unhappiness, allow me to explain. As I discussed earlier, daydreaming is in large part connected to your imagination. If you have a powerful imagination, and dream big, then it makes complete sense why daydreaming would make you a little bit unhappy, since you’re probably only doing it because you are dissatisfied, either with society or your life in some way. This, however, has its benefits. If you can recognize a problem while daydreaming, then you can tackle it when your mind is focused. Those of us dreaming about utopian societies all of the time will probably fight harder for that imagined future than those of us completely content with what we have now.

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5. It will improve your memory.

Flash cards are one way to help you remember things, but daydreaming might be even better, at least when it comes to broad concepts or ideas. The relationship between mind-wandering and memory retention has been established before, and it makes sense. Actively trying to remember something rarely works. Thinking about a book abstractly, or imagining the historical figures you’ve read about, works much better in helping you recall information. As the study notes, your brain solidifies memories in its resting state, which is why you might find that you remember things much better the morning after a session with flash cards than you did the night before.

Tying this back into the whole spiel I gave about reading, it would seem that taking information and re-purposing it for use in your own personalized daydreams is a great way to absorb lots of information. As a history major I did this all of the time, often using my imagination to think about how the figures I studied lived and dealt with the problems of their era. When the time came for us to take a midterm or final, I knew the information like the back of my hand since I had romanticized it all and daydreamed about it so much.

Want to tap into the powers of daydreaming yourself? Read something you enjoy, boost your imagination, and let your mind do the rest. Your head will be in the clouds along with the rest of us dreamers faster than you can say “Steve Jobs.”

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Featured photo credit: Thinking of You/Fabiana Zonca via flickr.com

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Published on October 16, 2020

13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

Sunday’s are amazing days. For most of us, Sunday’s are a day of rest — a chance to relax, spend time with our family and friends and step away from work. Yet, for many people, Sunday’s can be a day of gloom. The thought of having to go back to work the next day and rejoin the hustle and bustle of everyday working life creates a dark cloud over a day that should be a joy.

With the right approach, though, Sunday’s can be days of rejuvenation—a chance to recharge our batteries—and to set ourselves up for a fantastic week. It is just a matter of the way you look at Sundays.

Sunday’s give me a chance to take stock of how my week has gone and decide what I want to achieve the following week. Each Sunday allows me to step back from the everyday grind and to measure my progress against the plan I had for the week and to reset that plan to make the next week even better.

Here are 13 ways you can turn Sunday’s into amazingly productive days:

1. Wake up at Your Normal Time

I grew up thinking Sunday’s were a great day to ‘catch-up on my sleep’. The problem here is by over-sleeping on a Sunday, you often find it difficult to get to sleep Sunday night and that begins the cycle of sleep debt you want to avoid.[1]

Waking up at your normal time maintains regular sleep patterns and this helps to make sure your sleep schedule is consistent throughout the week. When you are in a perpetual sleep debt all week, your productivity will sink. Ensuring you have a good night sleep every night, keeps you in a highly productive state.

2. Start the Day With “Me-Time”

“Me-time” is time you give to yourself.[2] It’s time you can spend doing all the things you love doing without the fear of being interrupted. That could be exercise, reading, going for a long walk or meditation.

Before Google and smartphones, people in the U.K. used to wake up on a Sunday morning, take a short walk to the local newsagent to buy the Sunday papers. The Sunday papers had all sort of supplements on books, lifestyle, gardening and fashion.

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You would get home, settle into your favourite armchair and spend an hour or two reading through all these supplements. For me, I would put on some relaxing music and just relax with a nice cup of tea. It was a wonderful way to spend Sunday morning. No stress, no pressure, just me and the Sunday papers.

Decide what you want to do with your Sunday morning, make sure it is focused on you and start this week. You will thank yourself for it.

3. Do Some Exercise

Now, this does not mean you go out and do a 10-mile run or spend one or two hours in the gym. What this means is to get outside and move.

Our lifestyles today have taken away a lot of natural movement. This has become particularly prominent this year with many of us having to work from home. Those walks to the bus stop, train station and the office have gone. Now we get up, move from one room to another, sit down and start work.

Sunday’s give you a chance to move. Take that opportunity. Get yourself outside for an hour or two. Enjoy nature. Go with your family or friends and just have a relaxing hour or two in nature. This is possibly one of the best ways to reduce stress, get some healthy exercise and set yourself up for a wonderful week.

4. Plan the Day

Not having a plan for the day will leave you at the mercy of outside events. Instead, decide on Saturday evening what you will do the next day. Make sure you wake up at your normal time, indulge in your favourite morning drink and start your day.

Having no plan for the day, will likely result in you waking up late, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep the next evening and you will waste the opportunity to make the day count.

Your plan does not have to be too detailed. Something similar to:

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  • Wake up and make coffee
  • Put on some great music
  • Sit down and enjoy coffee
  • Take a 2-hour walk
  • Read for an hour or two
  • Spend some time with the kids

Just make sure you have a rough plan for the day, but keep things as flexible as possible.

5. Watch a Sports Game

This is a great way to get yourself away from thinking about work and your troubles. I’m a big rugby and motorsport fan and even in these difficult pandemic times, there are plenty of sports events I can watch on YouTube.

Whatever sport you enjoy, take some time on Sunday to watch a game. Just getting into the game, enjoying the skills on show and marvelling at the professionalism removes you from your everyday world for a while. It’s a great way to give your brain some much-needed relaxation and provides a wonderful distraction from your everyday normal life.

6. Make Sure You Do Something Different

Doing the same things day after day will eventually turn every day into a grind. You want to be looking forward to your Sunday’s. Plan to go out for a drive in the countryside, or a walk in an unfamiliar park, or go to the cinema or an outside concert.

Do anything that breaks up your routine. Like watching a sports game, it takes you away from the normal everyday life you lead and gives you something refreshingly different to enjoy and experience.

7. Clean Up

I know, most people hate doing house chores but having a clean, ordered home does wonders for your overall mental wellbeing. I love ending Sunday with a beautifully clean home, knowing everything is in its place, the floors are clean and all my laundry is put away and ready for the following week.

It can be hard to find the time to stay on top of all the cleaning during the week, so setting aside some time each Sunday to do a cleanup leaves you feeling refreshed, energized and ready for whatever the following week will throw at you.

8. Prepare You Clothes for the Following Week

This may seem a bit excessive, but it saves so much time and cognitive overload. All it takes is one bad night’s sleep and you wake up and find yourself rushing around trying to get yourself ready for your first appointment.

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In that state, trying to decide what clothes to wear in another decision you just don’t need. It’s far better to make a rough plan on a Sunday what you will wear for work and have all these clothes ready, washed and ironed.

It also prevents discovering the shirt you want to wear for the early morning meeting is still in the laundry basket when you need it. Plan ahead. It saves so much time and stress.

9. Do a Weekly Planning Session

I’ve experimented doing a weekly planning session on different days but by far, the best day to plan is Sunday. I find that Sunday evenings are the best times to open up my calendar and to-do list, and to plan for the week ahead. It sets me up for the week ahead.

It also helps me to sleep better on Sunday evening, knowing exactly what I need to accomplish the following week. I can start Monday morning without wasting time trying to figure out where things were left the previous Friday.

What I am looking for are where all my meetings are, which days I can focus on my deep and project work and to make sure I have everything processed from the week before.

10. Clear Out Your Email

What? Doing email on a Sunday? Yes. Why? Because the worst thing you can do is start the new week with an inbox full of last week’s unreplied-to emails.

For most of us, Monday morning is likely to be the one day in the week we do not have a lot of email in our inboxes, so we can begin the day on our most important project work. If you spend an hour or two cleaning up your email from last week, you miss a tremendous opportunity to start with a clean slate.

We don’t get a lot of email in on a Sunday, so you can process your inbox and actionable folders to make sure when the new week begins, you not only have a set of outcomes you want to achieve that week, but also begin the new week with no hangovers from the week before.

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11. Do Some Work on Your Side Project

Now, this does not mean work. This means your own personal projects. It could be a DIY project, doing something in your garden, restoring an old car or writing your book.

Sunday’s give you incredible opportunities to do all those things you dream of doing but never seem to find time to do them. Just getting on and doing these side projects removes you from your everyday work, and allows you a few hours to do the things you love doing.

12. Read a Book

During the week, it can be hard to read a good book. We get up, rush out the door to get to work (or move to our home work station and start the computer). When we finish the day, we are exhausted and just want to vegetate in front of the TV.

Don’t waste Sunday’s. They give you a great opportunity to spend time with the books you want to read.

13. Prepare You Meals for the Following Week

This is a great one for those of you who are following a healthy diet and exercise plan. Preparing meals for the following week not only saves a lot of time, it also encourages you to eat healthy on those exhausting days when all you want to do is eating pizza and flopping down on the sofa.

Having a set of pre-prepared meals reduces the temptation during the week when your willpower is at its lowest. It’s quick, healthy and easy to do. It makes sure you are sticking to your diet plan.

Bottom Line

I am not suggesting you try and fit all these things into Sunday. Just pick a few that resonate with you. Do those that will give you the biggest benefit and most joy.

Sunday’s need to be restful, relaxing and give you a chance to do those things you do not normally have time to do. It’s an incredible day, so don’t waste it laying in bed watching endless episodes of your favourite TV series.

More of What You Can Do During Weekend

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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