How To Stop Daydreaming And Get Your Work Done On Time

Posted: May 4, 2015

Do you find yourself getting distracted by thoughts of what-might-have-been or unfulfilled wish lists? Here’s how to stop daydreaming.

Sarla has already made a mental list of all the tasks she needs to complete, alongside the time she can assign to each one of them. She knows adhering to this list will be extremely important if she has to leave the office premises by 5 PM.

On her floor though, she stops by at her colleague Shama’s desk, instantly distracted by the bright pink saree she is wearing. They discuss the saree for a while, after which Sarla gets back to her own desk, her mind back to when she was 18 and had worn a saree for the very first time. More memories follow. It was on the same day that she had met her husband Ravi.

Sarla reluctantly switches her computer on, and opens the document related to her first ‘task’. The document makes no sense, for she is already transported to the snow-capped peaks of Alps with Ravi for company, as “Yeh Haseen Waadiyaan” from the movie Roja plays in the background. She eventually ends up leaving office at 7 PM that day.

Sarla isn’t alone in her abilities to camouflage into a daydreamer with superpowers that could transport her to another end of this world faster than she could blink her eyes. Daydreaming is something all of us have to live with, much like we have to live with that annoying lizard that keeps popping up in front of our eyes, when we least expect her to. And yet we convince ourselves that our daydreaming soirees are actually a ‘pleasant digression’ from life’s other banalities. They are like that ad-break that peppers everything on our TV screens – everything ranging from a movie, to a 20-20 match, to a news telecast, to hold-your-breath, another ad break – something that we don’t necessarily need, but can do with nonetheless, right? Wrong.

We always complain about the lack of time in our lives, and with most of us preferring a set routine to a more bohemian lifestyle, time management ends up becoming a major factor to consider. Yet, how many of us even do this seriously? How many of us conveniently let go off those 15 minutes of pranayama or that skipping rope or even a walk in the neighboring park, simply because we “don’t have the time for all this”? Daydreaming ends up as a contributor to this loss of time too, and yet is largely ignored and unaddressed. How does one control this issue then?

The first step to addressing a problem is acknowledging it. If you are like me, you would be better off making notes all over your house or work-desk, notes that would read, “I will not daydream anymore”, or “Dreams are for the night” or “If you catch yourself daydreaming, pinch yourself”. A little too extreme, is it? Well then, here’s something more normal.

Practical ways to curb daydreaming

Right after you wake up, go watch something or someone that fills you up with delight. This is a good start, as opposed to say dreading the thought of skimming through your clothes closet and finding out that almost every one of your T-shirts stinks of dried sweat and deodorant. Once you have started well, look forward to spending the rest of your day, even if most of it might not turn out the way you would have wanted it to be. A less bored and worn-out mind will mean more focus and hence less daydreaming.

Once you have started well, look forward to spending the rest of your day, even if most of it might not turn out the way you would have wanted it to be.

Many of us make use of public transport and spend a lot of time commuting to work and back home, and many of us spend a ‘lot’ of time doing this. Make ample use of this travel time to indulge in all your fantasies and daydreams. People who drive may not be so privileged, after all. Well, those folks always have their bathroom breaks. Our brain is perfectly wired to co-ordinate all the mundane bathroom activities. By the time you are done with these breaks, the fantasy in most likelihood is done too. There is only so much one can fantasize in a day.

Maintain a diary or notepad where you note down whatever it was that you were daydreaming about. The absurdity of most of the topics on which your dream revolves around, will definitely put you off most of them in the long run. Of course, you do want to trade your 2005 model Alto for a better car. But seriously, isn’t that 7-series BMW a tad too much even for a daydream?

If like me, you are in a desk job too, make it a habit to look up from your files or computer screen or whatever it is that you work on your desk with, at least once every 30 minutes. Turn to the left, turn to the right. You will simply be amazed by how much difference that makes to your eyes and mind. But, don’t let your gaze wander for too long. An optimal break should not last for more than a few seconds.

After you are done looking up and around, lower your head and look at the watch on your wrist. You will be further amazed by how much time has passed since you woke up and how much of it was actually well spent. Get back to your work, with this new discovery. Think of how much relaxation and sleep awaits you once you get back home.

Make it a habit to snap out of any thought that has the risk of turning a little too pleasant for comfort. Pleasant and partially unfulfilled fantasies turn into the most time-consuming and hence the most worthless daydreams.

Of course, daydreams will exist, and they should. They can, after all, show us perspectives that we may not see otherwise. But the key is to control their occurrence and ensure that they don’t eat into our productive hours.

Image of a woman dreaming via Shutterstock

Writer and technologist currently based out of Bangalore

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