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Daydreaming Makes You Successful: So What Are You Waiting for?

Daydreaming Makes You Successful: So What Are You Waiting for?

I’m not a dreamer, but I often imagine what my life would be like if I were. Although some people look at daydreamers as wasting their time, I see the world in a different way–dreaming is an important step when it comes to succeeding, and, when backed by quantifiable effort, following your dreams is the only way to find true fulfillment in life. If you’re bored at work and need something to focus on so you don’t fall asleep, here are some ways daydreaming makes you successful.

Daydreaming Makes You More Productive

According to Psychology Today, thinking outside the box is an important step in problem-solving. While daydreaming seems like waste of time, it’s actually pulling your conscious thoughts into other perspectives. Brainstorming can quickly lead to tunnel vision if you do it on a regular basis; you may be daydreaming about living on a tropical island, but in doing so you’ll return to reality with a fresh perspective on your current problem. The 5-10 minutes you spend daydreaming are much more efficient than the 30 minutes you’ll likely spend pulling your hair out trying to resolve that difficult problem you’ve been working on.

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Daydreaming Makes You Smarter

It’s easy to pigeonhole daydreamers as a kid dreamily staring out the window during class, ignoring what the teacher is saying. I was that kid, and here’s why I was daydreaming: my homework was already done, I already firmly grasped the concept being taught, along with all the corresponding formulas, and methods–what I was daydreaming about was the real-world applications of all the theories being discussed in class. It’s not just me; government studies by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health show that daydreaming combines your executive network (regions of your brain dedicated to problem solving) with your default network (regions of your brain associated with higher-level activity) to improve your critical thinking.

The idea is this:

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Would my time have been better spent listening to a teacher continue to drill the points in for the kids who needed more time to learn (thus slowing me down and wasting my time)? Or was it better spent considering the many ways to incorporate the knowledge into my life and take me from point A to point B? Think of it as listening to an album over and over versus listening to a wide variety of music; I’m happy the teacher likes Garrison Keillor so much, but I don’t need to know every happening in Lake Wobegon to understand Americana from the time period.

Daydreaming Increases Both Confidence and Insight

Perfect practice makes perfect, and imagining a scenario in your head allows you to practice how you would react in a variety of scenarios. Sure, you’re not likely to gain superpowers or a billion dollars simply by imagining it, and those imaginary resources won’t be available to you in the real world, but you’ll get a general idea of how you’d behave in certain situations. If that idea doesn’t provide you with the confidence you need, at the very least, it’ll facilitate personal insight. It also helps to visualize yourself in someone else’s shoes, a form of daydreaming often advocated as a method to resolve misunderstandings.

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Daydreaming Inspires Happiness

Not only are your daydreams responsible for motivating you to work toward a goal (that’s pretty much the point of daydreaming), but they keep you content and satisfied while you work toward them. Sitting in a cubicle is boring. Everything is drab in an office building, and, depending on where you work, there’s a good chance daydreaming is the most exciting part of your day. There’s nothing wrong with that. You’re the person who’s stuck with you 24/7‒making yourself happy is much more important than pleasing anyone else.

As you can see, daydreaming is not only not a waste of time, but it can actually be more useful than working. Like everything else in life, though, moderation is key, and acting on your dreams will always get you further than simply sitting idle and passively enjoying them. So take a cue from the Internet and get your head in the clouds, and daydream, FTW!

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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