Daydream: stop working & look out of the window

Could a daydream at work increase productivity? In this post I suggest that if your mind keeps drifting off, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.

Business gurus love issuing proclamations such as:

we can, and must, do more in the workplace.

For example, in the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook evangelises that for women to reach their true potential they need to avoid “leaning away”. In other words: women must be totally dedicated to their chosen profession. Thoughts of children and family are distractions to be avoided. And what does the Facebook COO think explains women’s under-representation in senior business roles? It is down to likeability, she says.

“The data shows conclusively that as men get more successful they are better liked by women and men — but as women get more successful they are less liked by both.”

Other gurus urge us to Book Yourself Solid and Never Eat Alone.

While these books raise valuable questions about the individual choices that govern happiness and success, take a look around you as you commute to your job. Streams of stressed out, overworked employees pass by who, in the majority of cases, would rather be elsewhere. And what’s more: CEOs who force workers, of both genders, towards burnout are taking chances with the longer-term success of their company.


For me, the biggest problem in the business world isn’t doing too little, it’s doing too much. Too many long meetings, too many pointless emails, too much being busy. Americans now work 8.5 hours a week more than they did in 1979. Almost a third sleep for six hours or less a night. Yet a huge study of work and creativity by Harvard Business School has found that workers are more productive on low-pressure than on high -pressure days. The key lies in what Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s favourite PM, called

masterful inactivity

Or what General Electric boss Jack Welch called

looking out the window time.

In other words, enjoy your daydream. So next time you are at your desk, think: is there a meeting you can cancel, an appointment you can avoid, and email you can delete? To have a really wonderful life you don’t need to just focus on your career, earn as much as possible and seek power. Leaning in is yielding negative returns. Time we gave “leaning back” a try.

And think …

What’s REALLY important in life.

Then go and do it.

What do you think? Why not leave a comment below?

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

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