“The student’s eyes drift to the classroom window and the teacher’s voice fades from consciousness. The daydream begins.

It’s a familiar scene, one we have likely both experienced as students and struggled against in our students as teachers. But daydreaming is not what it might seem. Recent research in both psychology and neuroscience clearly shows that daydreaming is an essential part of mental processing, reasoning and, yes, even learning.” – William Koch, 15 Reasons Why Daydreamers are Better Learners

I know William’s article refers to children and their classroom behavior, but humor me for a second and imagine we’re talking about adults and a boardroom. Let’s change that first sentence so it reads, “The employee’s eyes drift to the boardroom window and the speaker’s voice fades from consciousness. The daydream begins.” Sound familiar? We think so.

According to William’s statistics, approximately 47% of the time we spend awake is naturally spent daydreaming. Are we capable of periods of focus when we can distill ideas and really get down to work? Of course we are. There’s just very little chance that everyone in a board meeting or brainstorming session is going to be able to do that all at once, or would even want to for that matter.

As children, we were taught to focus more and to daydream less. We were most likely also taught to wait our turn and save our thoughts until the person currently speaking was done. The problem is that our brains don’t seem to work that way. We don’t usually get to choose when we’re going to have an original thought, and if we’re forced to wait to voice it we risk forgetting the thought, while simultaneously not hearing a word anyone else is saying.

We kid ourselves into thinking that we can force ourselves to have original thoughts and ideas on command, the same way we think we can force children to stop daydreaming. The truth is that most of our creativity happens when our brains are relaxed. A lot of people come up with great ideas when they’re doing random things like driving, showering or even sleeping.

If you’re getting tired of your brainstorming sessions not producing much at all, maybe you need to approach the process differently. Our sticky note platform allows every member of your team to contribute ideas all at the same time, or individually on their own time. No waiting your turn. No forcing ideas. If you’re looking to harness the power of the daydreamers on your team, we highly recommend giving Stormboard a try. It’s free for up to 5 users and our subscriptions have a 30 day free trial and start at $5/user per month.