Wait…What?! In a world of hyperfocus and constant busyness, how can goofing off be good for you? That’s just being lazy. I eat people who goof off for breakfast!
Hang on. This isn’t about goofing off all the time and just expecting great things to happen. It’s about giving your brain a break and allowing your subconscious mind and creativity to flourish.
We’ve all had it happen to us. Emma Seppala of Stanford wrote a great article on how scientific research is proving it.
I’m lucky enough to know Dr. Harold Finch. He played a key role as a project director for the Apollo spacecraft program.
He was trying to figure out how to keep the astronauts safe from the dangers of the heat and cold extremes in space. Harold concentrated and focused on the problem. He came up with all kinds of ideas… and none of them worked.
One day while he was taking a break and going to eat some great Kansas City barbecue – goofing off – he came up with the solution. The idea just popped into his head. It was brilliant in it’s simplicity and it’s still used in space today.
As Harold was waiting on his lunch he was watching a chicken being cooked on a rotisserie. Hey, didn’t that keep the chicken from being burned on one side and uncooked on the other? Couldn’t we rotate the spacecraft so it would create an even temperature on all sides? Wouldn’t that protect the ship and the astronauts? The Barbecue Roll was born.
Goofing off works!
Here are some ideas on how to goof off with great results.
- Spend some time focusing on your goal, problem, or project to prime your conscious and subconscious minds.
- Schedule in 10 minute breaks every hour or so to purposefully unfocus.
- Perform some stretching exercises
- Do a mindless task and let your mind drift. I work mostly at home so I love to do the dishes, shave, or shower. It’s stuff I have to do anyway and it gives me time to just think in silence. (When I really want to give my mind time to drift on something, I mow the lawn. My wife LOVES this technique for me.)
- Take a walk. New research shows this really ramps up your creativity.
- Drive in total silence on the way to and from work and just daydream. (This takes a little getting used to. The first drive in complete silence feels a bit strange.)
- Work at creating new experiences in your daily life to give you new ways to look at the same things. Take a different road to work. Eat at a new restaurant. Work with a different team. Visit a new place.
You never know when goofing off might give you a Barbecue Roll moment.
There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become stargazers – H.M. Tomlinson