The all-important concept of gravity wasn’t discovered in a laboratory. Instead, it was an idea that occurred to Sir Isaac Newton while he was resting under a tree and an apple fell on his head. It was a light bulb moment that led to the discovery of one of the most crucial fundamentals of physics upon which the entire academic discipline has been built.
A psychology author and researcher from Harvard University, Shelley H. Carson, explains that the biggest lightbulb moments in life strike when we least expect them; in other words, getting distracted can sometimes lead us closer to our goal and make us more productive.
Most people would consider getting distracted as a mindless activity which doesn’t serve any useful purpose towards solving problems. But in reality, giving your mind a break from work and letting it relax is a form of mindfulness that allows you to see things from a fresh perspective and expose you to new ideas and concepts.
Often, we find ourselves struggling to unravel a problem that has no apparent solution, and the more time you spend trying to work it out, the more you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall. In this situation, Carson recommends putting the work aside and letting some fresh air and perspective flow through your mind. Sometimes, the answers we’re looking for are hidden in plain sight, and relaxing gives you the ability to take bits of information around you and fit them together like missing pieces of a puzzle.
This isn’t to say that distractions are a sure-shot way of achieving productivity. Most of the time, you’ll need focus, dedication and a lot of hard work to achieve your ambitions, but sometimes, getting distracted can provide an interesting route to discovering new ideas and finding solutions. Here are three ways why getting distracted can sometimes be beneficial for your productivity.
Distractions Can Lead to Creativity
We only get distracted when something else grabs our attention more than the task at hand. This leads to a surge in stimuli in the part of your conscious mind that is responsible for generating novel ideas. Highly creative individuals are often fascinated by the smallest details in life and get enthusiastically distracted by everything they see around them.
So whenever you find yourself distracted by something, don’t just brush it aside and go back to your work. Instead, give it a chance to inspire you to find more creative solutions and out-of-the-box ideas which are essential for any business to thrive, whether creative or not.
Distractions Can Help You Find Solutions
Distractions can sometimes lead to creative solutions to problems that have been simmering in your mind. When you get distracted by something other than your work, you’re encountered by a new environment that can act as a trigger for the problem you’ve been trying to solve.
Sometimes, you’re just looking at the problem from one angle but putting it on the back burner and returning to it in a while will allow you to look at it from a different perspective and that’s how you reach the Aha! Moment. Carson calls this opportunistic assimilation where you find a solution to a problem while you’re working on something else.
Distractions Can Make You Happy
Sometimes distractions serve more than just a medium for finding creative solutions – or some would call it wasting time. Letting other things attract your attention can actually lift your mood, according to Carson’s research.
Just imagine this scenario: you’ve been hunched over your work desk, working away on a problem for hours and suddenly a furry cat jumps onto your lap. Your mood immediately switches from being depressed to happy. This sudden change in mood can also help you become more productive as you tend to be more distracted anyway when you’re feeling low.
Let the environment around you serve as a distraction from time to time by allowing yourself to notice things that you wouldn’t under normal circumstances, such as the rug underneath your feet, the pattern on your clothes or the faint sounds around you. Once you pay attention to these fine details, you remove the filters that limit information.