That glazed over look we sometimes wear doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of cognitive action. Zoning out might be the new form of deep mental clarity.
It can happen anywhere to anyone. That moment when your eyes connect with a far away object, your eyes and jaw go slack and a tiny drop of spittle hangs from the corner of your mouth. You are in the middle of a deep and powerful session of zoning out. New research suggests that instead of experiencing a (ahem) “brain fart,” you might actually be in a strong problem solving state.
Zoning out usually happens during an activity that can be classified as mechanical or routine. Many of us have experienced the phenomenon of “auto pilot” where we get to work in the morning and don’t remember one minute of our forty minute commute. That period of auto pilot was probably (and surprisingly) exceptionally productive.
You might have been mentally outlining your tasks for the week and thoughtfully arranging the logistics of pick-ups, drop-offs, travel plans, deadlines, why did so-and-so make that comment about your work ethic and what did it mean, how many miles per gallon am I getting, how can I improve quarterly production this year and an endless stream of thoughts that are uninterrupted by the stimulants in our surroundings.
Zoning out could be the most productive thing you do all day!
Science of Us has recently published an article detailing the benefits of zoning out and how it relates to the practice of mindful thinking. CLICK HERE to read more. Just don’t zone out while you’re reading!
[image via Dave Dougdale on flickr]