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back to article Daydreaming? You're actually solving complex problems

Scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have provided vital scientific justification for staring vacantly from behind your desk: What your boss believes is bone idleness is actually your brain indulging in "complex problem solving". Professor Kalina Christoff, of the UBC Department of Psychology and lead author of …

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Anonymous Coward

Good news for me then

I spend a lot of my time day dreaming. consequently when people ask what I've been doing (usually at home rather than work) I don't have a great deal to tell them.

But I always new there was something inherently beneficial to just staring at the wall imagining stuff. I come up with many ideas that way, usually I don't have the skills or motivation to implement any of them but nonetheless it's got to be better than staring at the TV with your brain switched off.

Besides, daydreaming is fun. Anyone who says otherwise is proving they have no imagination.

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Coat

Sorry

My mind wandered half way through the article.

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Well duh...

Read "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance", and achieve some understanding of why this might be :)

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Looking up

I have long found when trying to work out a complicated problem at work, that it helps to lean back and stare at the ceiling for a while. It really does help sort out my thinking. Nice to see this apparently validated.

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Paris Hilton

Helpful

I find that if I am concentrating on a problem that has me stumped, I can head off to make a brew, stare out of the window and some times suddenly the answer will pop into my head.

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g e
Silver badge

Quite

Exactly how I do a lot of problem solving, I collect all the variables and then think about something else or do something mundane. an hour/day/week later, depending on the complexity, the solution just comes to me fully formed.

This is also touched upon in Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by R Pirsig - useful piece of trivia ;o)

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Mmm....

.... Donuts....!

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Paris Hilton

Bit obvious really...

Just think how hard the mental GPU has to work to provide that full-colour hi-res interactive pornstream-daydream! And that's before we even get to a physics model...

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or as T.E. Lawrence said...

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”

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Happy

Well

But how do I solve my employers problems by daydreaming?

The trick is not to stare at the ceiling but at your screen with a furrowing brow. Don't keep your face immobile for too long, that'll be suspicious. Nodding sometimes helps a lot, too.

There's an art to it, you know.

"I muse the mystery was not made a science - it is so liberally professed."

(Ben Jonson)

A daydreaming icon? Please!

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Joke

Personally.......

I've been in an important cognitive state all day so far

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Anonymous Coward

From the department of the obvious?

Psychologists have known this for decades.

So, my thinking about naked women is why I'm so successful and dad was wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Complex problem solving.

If they class daydreaming about how I might be able boink our particularly attractive admin without a) losing my job and b) my wife finding out and c) not having my tackle removed by her gorilla of a boyfriend, as a complex problem, then yes I most definitely am attempting to sole a particularly complex problem

AC for quite obvious reasons.

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Happy

scheming

"...your mind may be taking that time to address more important questions in your life, such as advancing your career or personal relationships."

Just as I thought. While my brain might be doing something helpful for once it's instead carrying out its own agenda. Well it's not going to get away with it. OH YES I AM. No! Nooooo!

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It doesn't matter

Most bosses have little comprehension of abstract thought; they themselves are doers and networkers, not logicians.

I recall, decades ago, a senior software engineer being hailed by the big boss as he (the engineer) sat with his feet up and his hands behind his head, gazing vacantly into space. "Why aren't you working?" barked the big cheese. "I'm visualising how my multi-dimensional data analysis algorithm would work under a given set of exceptional circumstances," said the engineer. "Before I make any changes to the code, I have to think through all the possible consequences". "Can't you do that at home?" asked the manager.

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Paris Hilton

@ scheming

"...your mind may be taking that time to address more important questions in your life, such as advancing your career or personal relationships."

What? My mind is a woman?

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Happy

your mind *may* be taking that time to address more important questions

The operative word is *may*. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

But I do worry that the ever-present distraction of the web gets in the way of (potentially) more productive daydreaming...

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Happy

Dirty Little Secret

I'm a stereotypic, regular guy, divorced, live alone, 1 bedroom apartment, wear the same pair of jeans all week, have 40 or 50 blue hued t shirts so I can wear a fresh one everyday. It's my concession to society's norms. But I've a dirty little secret. I like doing housework. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming, general clean up are all willingly undertaken, all for the same reasons. I solve complex problems while doing menial tasks, and, even if I fail to come up with solutions or new avenues of investigation, I finish up my housework feeling clear headed. AND chicks like guys who keep their apartments clean. I do my own bike maintenance and computer building and maintenance for the same reasons. Menial tasks keep body consciousness occupied while the more, deep thinking parts of the brain tackle complex problems. Of course if all else fails I can crib work to make puerile comments at productivity eating IT sites.

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You're a nutter

I remember watching a TV series on psychology (entertainment not documentary) and one of the patients told the psychologist that when she daydreamed she played out entire conversations with him in her head.

He told her that one theory psychologists have is that people who mentally acted out conversations were in fact geniuses.

She asked what the other theories were.

"You're completely insane".

So I would be careful who I admitted something like that to. One day it's daydreaming, the next it's talking to yourself and claiming that your insanity is a sign of genius probably isn't going to make things better.

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Reminds me...

Many years ago when I was a callow yoof I was assigned to work with a much older engineer. On one occasion while sitting fairly idly between jobs, we were approached by the company's latest manager-droid, who demanded to know why we were idle. Bill drew himself up to his full 5'4" and completely straight-faced said:

'Just because I don't have a screwdriver in my hand, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about the job'. He then turned on his heel and marched smartly to the toilet.

The manager got the nickname 'screwdriver'.

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i'll get right onto the job

... lemme daydream... does that include watching youtube flicks?

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Boffin

So now i can finally can get credit for my self ?

This article is just what i need today.

From early age upto adolescense i've been stuffed with neuroleptics and early on even barbituates. Because i was daydreaming to much. My IQ was even put to the question as i "was just not there" for them. To the amazement of many the meds drugged me to levels only junkies know.

20 years later i learn a side-effect of these meds is you're not able to count very well after extremely high doses. This effect lasts for life and is not-repairable. Almost ruined my liver.

Bottomline, don't let them pill-doctors near your kids at any age if the reason why is vagueish.

Science is just a METHOD nothing to do with right or wrong or vision or compassion or understanding of a greater whole, that's for them daydreamers them wanted to fix.

Bloody Idiots.

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Black Helicopters

Et tu Brain

Bloody hell I thought it was just my boss, his boss, my workmates, the government and that weird looking guy on the street corner that was out to get me. Now your saying my brain could be plotting against me too!

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Happy

No escaping Freud-init!

"The division of the psychical into what is conscious and what is unconscious is the fundamental premise of psychoanalysis. Very powerful mental processes or ideas exist in the unconscious which can produce all the effects in mental life that ordinary ideas do though they themselves do not become conscious."

Sigmund Freud, The Ego & the Id, 1923

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Happy

I daydream....

When I'm swimming. It's a great way to wind down and let my brain sort things out (like pent up agression from anonymous cowards who post flames on El Reg). I go into autopilot (or should that be autoswim) mode and by the time my brain has sorted everything out I get out the pool and sit in the sauna.

I guess that's why I'm a toned hunk of a man with the lung capacity of a Whale- because I have a lot on my mind :-)

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Happy

Sometimes I sits and thinks...

and sometimes I just sits

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Happy

Good news

for the Walter Mitty in all of us.

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