(This is a continuation of the Daydreaming Leads to Creativity entry.)
Here’s another article on daydreaming and creativity from the November 2009 issue of Wired Magazine: Why an idling mind is the mother of invention, by Clive Thompson.
Thompson discusses a study that shows how often people lose concentration (a full one-third of the time), and that when our minds drift the parts of our brains associated with memory and problem solving become busier, thus facilitating creativity. He makes an interesting point about how a focus on productivity tries to minimize mental drift, and how that may actually be counterproductive. And finally, he writes that maybe the distractions provided by social networks (Facebook, YouTube, and the like) and games might actually be a good thing.
There is another concept associated with creativity that is the antithesis of daydreaming and distraction, called Flow, in which a person is fully immersed in a task, where concentration on the task is effortless, they feel real joy in performing the task, and they lose an awareness of time (“time flies by”) and even their own needs of resting and eating. The Wikipedia article on Flow is very interesting, especially the section on Group flow, which seems almost identical to how a brainstorming session should be setup.
Flow may be difficult to achieve. People who are very skilled in their tasks and whose tasks challenge them may be able to enter the state of flow easier than others in different circumstances. Perhaps the bottom line is that if you’re not flowing, then daydreaming isn’t bad; if you are flowing, then daydreaming isn’t even an option.