Why Daydreaming Is Actually A Good Thing

Do your best ideas come when you’re in the shower? Then why, when it comes to creative masterpieces, do we envision someone in angst—a la Vincent Van Gogh or Ernest Hemingway?

In her blog, Emma Seppälä, science director at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, suggests that actually a happy state is necessary for creativity.

While doing research for her book, The Happiness Track, she uncovered proof that relaxation actually drives creation.

Seppälä says history shows that many famous inventors have come up with novel ideas while letting their minds wander. In 1881, for example, famed inventor Nikola Tesla fell seriously ill on a trip to Budapest. There, a college friend, Anthony Szigeti, took him on walks to help him recover. As they were watching the sunset on one of these walks, Tesla suddenly had insight about rotating magnetic fields—which would, in turn, lead to the development of the modern day alternating current electrical mechanism.

Even Albert Einstein would get into a relaxed state to address complex problems by playing Mozart for inspiration.

Her point is creativity happens when your mind is unfocused, idle. Daydreaming, and in turn creativity occurs when you can relax and let your mind wander.

She quotes an article in the Annual Review of Psychology, where Jonathan Schooler and psychology professor Jonathan Smallwood found that when people learn a challenging task, they do better if they work first on an easy task that promotes mind-wandering, and then go back to the more difficult one. The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work.

How often do you let your brain go on idle during the day? If you’re like me, the work day is filled with conference calls, meetings, writing and deadlines. I’m not sure my boss would be thrilled with me shutting my door and daydreaming for an hour. And my “downtime” is when I’m going to the grocery store, cooking dinner, taking kids to practices and taking care of responsibilities at home.

So how do we give our minds a break? She suggests these simple changes:

Make a long walk—without your phone—a part of your daily routine. Seppälä quotes a 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology that revealed that people who went on daily walks scored higher on a test that measures creative thinking than people who did not, and that people who went on outdoor walks came up with more novel, imaginative analogies than people who walked on treadmills.

Get out your comfort zone. Instead of intensely focusing exclusively on your field, take up a new skill or class. Take on new experiences by traveling or networking with people outside of your industry or your immediate circle. She says that research shows that diversifying your experiences will broaden your thinking and help you come up with innovative solutions.

Make more time for fun and games. Stuart Brown points out in his book Play that humans are the only mammals who no longer play in adulthood. However, play time is proven to boost happiness which leads to inventiveness.

Alternate between doing focused work and activities that are less intellectually demanding. She refers to Adam Grant, Wharton School management professor and author of Give & Take, who suggests that organizing your day this way can help give your brain some much-needed downtime. It allows room for idea generation.

Try these simple steps to open your mind to the next big idea.

Source: Emma Seppälä is science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, a lecturer at Yale, and author of The Happiness Track.

Seriously, Don’t Come to Work If You’re Sick

We’ve been off for a bit due to the busy nature of the holidays but today we are back with a vengeance and to talk about something very important to all of you out there.

Nobody wants you and your gross germs.

840x-1There’s nothing more selfish you can do than come to work sick. You may get a gold star for showing your sniffling face at the office and soldiering through the workday to prove your value—but everyone around you just gets sick. You’re an inconsiderate work hazard.

When people bring their infectious illness to work, it spreads—and when sick people don’t have a financial incentive to show up to work, fewer people get sick, according to a new working paper by the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research.

The researchers studied U.S. cities with paid sick-leave mandates and, using Google Flu Trends data at the city and state level from 2003 to 2015, looked for changes in flu rates after those mandates went into effect.

The cities that adopted paid sick-leave mandates in that time frame saw flu cases drop by about 5 percent after their laws took effect. For a city of 100,000 people, that comes out to 100 fewer infections per week, the researchers estimate.

“You see people who are at the workplace sneezing and potentially infectious. That’s how diseases spread,” said Nicolas R. Ziebarth, an assistant professor at Cornell University and one of the study’s researchers.

For most of us, staring at a computer through the fog of illness is torture, and does nothing to help us recover. Yet 3 million people, or 2 percent of the U.S. population, bring their ailments to work each week—a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “contagious presenteeism.”

Many do so because of financial pressures; nearly a third of workers have no access to paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The other two-thirds, who have the luxury of taking a sick day, need to stop making excuses for showing up at work sick.

Almost half of workers say they worry work will pile up if they stay home sick. People who find their jobs engaging also have a hard time staying home, finding work more fun than submitting to the reality of a sick day.

“Some people want to appear tough and signal that they are hard-working,” said Ziebarth.

But those diligent workers aren’t just showing their commitment, they’re also showering their coworkers with germs; the modern open office plan is a breeding ground for contagious illnesses. Worst of all, people tend to come to the office at the beginning of an illness, when they’re at their most contagious but still feeling well enough to get a little work done.

“You have over-the-counter drugs that suppress your symptoms, but they don’t suppress contagiousness,” Ziebarth pointed out.

And diligent workers who absolutely must meet a deadline or finish a life-or-death project should at least self-quarantine. Telecommuting has become an increasingly acceptable way to work, and 60 percent of employers let employees work from home, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual Employee Benefits Survey.

“It’s good to change the culture of how people see each other,” said Ziebarth. “You can signal hard work in a lot of different ways. It’s not the right way to go into the office and spread diseases.”

In fact, we all need to do our part to stigmatize coming to work sick. If a coworker comes in complaining of a tickle in his throat or clammy hands, say: “Go home! Nobody wants you and your gross germs.”

Original Article by

Rebecca Greenfield August 30, 2016, 9:47 AM EDT

How To Lead Innovation

There may be a time when you need to take the lead on innovation in your organization. The distinguishing aspect of leading a special-purpose team is that you’re not in control; you can only influence behavior. You’re tasked with figuring out how to do something new, so what you do in the formative stages will greatly impact the team’s chances of success?

1. Keep team size small, even for big projects. In Silicon Valley, the “pizza rule” has taken hold. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, your team is too big. Once a group gets beyond five to seven people, productivity and effectiveness begin to decline. Communication becomes cumbersome. Managing becomes a pain. Players begin to disengage, and introverts withdraw. When it comes to team size, less is more.

2. Pay attention to group chemistry and emotions. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon point to three factors that make a team highly functioning. 1) Members contributed equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate; 2) Members were better at reading complex emotional states; and 3) Teams with more women outperform teams with more men. The emotional component—how we feel when we are engaged with a team—truly matters but is all too often never discussed. Pay attention to how the people you’re inviting onto your team relate to others. Always give credit to your team rather than take credit yourself, and practice empathy at all times.

3. Don’t go overboard with diversity. Can too much diversity be a detriment to team chemistry? Researchers at Wharton think so. Too much diversity of “mental models” can be a drag on forward progress, say professors Klein and Lim. If members of a team have a shared, organized understanding and mental representation of knowledge about the nature of the challenge, it can enhance coordination and effectiveness when the task at hand is complex, unpredictable, urgent and novel. The researchers concluded that team members who share common models can save time because they share a common body of knowledge.

4. Establish a group process. A group without a process is like a ship without a rudder. It will have a harder time innovating. Establish team rules at the outset. Address how you’ll treat each other, how you’ll respect each other and articulate how much of time each member is committing to the team. Effective teams establish clear goals and rules at the outset, and hold each other accountable.

5. Pay attention to the 3R’s of innovation: Result, Reputation and Residuals. What motivates people over the long haul is not money, but intrinsic rewards. As the team leader, keep the three R’s in mind: 1) Result: If you hit your target, you’ll have another accomplishment on your track record; 2) Reputation: Your status in the organization rises. Senior management will be delighted. Colleagues will talk you up, praise your contribution, and invite you to join future projects. 3) Residuals: the lasting payout of participating in a successful collaborative team is that you get to see your “product” being used by customers, both internal and external. You know you’ve made a difference, solved a problem or created an opportunity for the organization, your team and most of all yourself.

Source: Robert B. Tucker is a renowned global futurist and innovation keynote speaker with a client list that includes more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. President and founder of The Innovation Resource, Tucker is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of innovation.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

20 Tips for a Positive New Year

1. Stay positive.
You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can know that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

2. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement:
My purpose is_______________________.

3. Take a morning walk of gratitude.
I call it a “thank you walk.” It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

4. Instead of being disappointed about where you are…
…think optimistically about where you are going.

5. Eat…
…breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

6. Remember that…
…adversity is not a dead-end but a detour to a better outcome.

7. Focus on…
…learning, loving, growing and serving.

8. Believe that everything happens for a reason.
Expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.

9. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.
Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

10. Mentor someone…
…and be mentored by someone.

11. Live with the 3 E’s.
Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.

12. Remember…
…there’s no substitute for hard work.

13. Zoom focus.
Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.

14. Implement the NoComplainingRule.
Complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

15. Read more books than you did in 2010.
I happen to know of a few good ones!

16. Get more sleep.
You can’t replace sleep with a double latte.

17. Focus on “Get to” vs “Have to.
Each day focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. Life is a gift not an obligation.

18. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:
I am thankful for __________.

Today I accomplished____________.

19. Smile and laugh more.
They are natural anti-depressants.

20. Enjoy the ride.
You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy it.