Focusing intently on a task can be beneficial for both creativity and productivity. But how you waste your time matters too, according to Nautilus writer Greg Beato:
Wasting time, they say, can make you more creative. Even seemingly meaningless activities such as watching cat videos on YouTube may help you solve math problems…
So what kinds of distractions, exactly, are best? “You want a distractor that’s pretty far away from what you want to process unconsciously,” Bursley says. If you want your brain to unconsciously process a math problem, it would be better to have the distractor be something totally different, like playing tennis, he says, rather than something similar, like a spatial puzzle.
The right distractions can boost creativity while others can leave us feeling drained. For example, if you’re stuck on a writing project, try doing something that doesn’t require you to create, something like watching funny videos. Or, if you’re starting to feel burnt out on a project proposal, do something that doesn’t require you to strategize, like free writing or browsing Reddit.