I was browsing HBR’s Twitter feed, trolling for some blog post inspiration. But what actually happened was simultaneous inspiration and kind of wanting to barf.
I found an article called “Zoning Out Can Make You More Productive.”
I space out all the time, and apparently, it makes me awesome.
“Research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that we engage in what the researchers call ‘creative incubation’ during mind-wandering. If we’re facing a challenge that needs some new ideas, we are more likely to find good solutions if we let our minds wander and then come back to the challenge.”
To summarize the entire article, Harvard thinks I should get a raise.
But then my old man brain kicked in, and I found myself calling BS. Because zoning out is involuntary, right? No one’s ever said, “I’m facing a huge creative challenge. I know. I’ll override the inherent anxiety of the situation, and I’ll stop working and zone out. That way, I’m sure to come up with a high-quality creative solution.” Barf.
But this article got me thinking about the book The Happiness Advantage. The whole idea of that book is that success doesn’t lead to happiness, but rather happy people are more likely to be successful.
Happiness Advantage Principle No. 7 is Social Investment.
The most successful people, instead of turning inward, they actually hold tighter to their social support. Not only are these people happier, but they are more productive, engaged, energetic, and resilient. They know that their social relationships are the single greatest investment they can make in the Happiness Advantage.
So zoning out makes me more productive, and being social makes me more productive. Does Grand Theft Auto make me more productive?
Video games can improve attention span and information processing skills, even (according to one study) your confidence and social skills.
What the hell is going on? According to the first hit on a quick Google search, recent brain research proves that play makes us more productive.
All this feel-good, group-hug, Wu Wei bullcrap tells me that if I space out, hang out, and goof off, I’m Richard Branson. That’s the opposite of a work ethic. That’s a not-work un-ethic.
But what the eff is our amazing work ethic helping us work toward? What’s the reward for our nose-to-the-grindstone diligence? Isn’t it supposed to be rewarded with great friends, and goofing off, and enough time and freedom to be able to sit and space out sometimes?
What I’m starting to realize is that maybe both sides of success should look the same. If you’re having a great time with great friends right now, who’s not going to want to hire you? And then, once you’re hugely successful, you get to continue having a great time with great friends.
Just then you can do it on a boat.
Greg was born in Akron, Ohio, in the shadow of the Firestone tire factory. He began to swim competitively when he was eight, swimming for the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. He graduated in 1995 from the University of Washington with a math degree. He chose math for the ladies. After serving ten-years as an 8th grade math teacher, he decided it was time for a career change, mainly because he “couldn’t stand those little bastards.” He began his accounting career with a local CPA firm in Orem, Utah, where he consistently failed the QuickBooks ProAdvisor advanced certification exam. Greg currently works as the Controller for the Utah Valley Physicians Plaza. He lives in Provo, Utah, with his wife and two kids. He enjoys eating maple bars, drinking Diet Pepsi, and swearing.