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6 steps to productive daydreaming – Part II Take the 6 steps

By Tessa Ivascu | Section(s): GET... , | Add Your comment

You can turn daydreaming into a good habit and purposefully use it to boost creativity, grasp the « bigger picture » and therefore reinforce your productivity. As I mentioned in the Introduction to this 3-part series, you don’t have to look for sophisticated and expensive « secret recipes » in order to practice productive daydreaming. Just use your imagination, follow the 6 steps below for a start and, in time, you will be able to build your own patterns.

1. Lean back in a comfortable chair in a dim-lighted room. You can listen to soft music but I personally prefer « natural sounds ». I guess it’s because I live on the 8th floor in a building surrounded by a garden, with birds singing in the trees and children playing on the ground. But if you are surrounded by unwanted noises, you should definitely use music to eliminate their effect on your mind.
You also need to have a pen and a pad, or a recorder, nearby, in order to get into the habit of writing down your daydreams (I will explain how in Step 6). But if you think you cannot relax or daydream easily, don’t bother to write down anything the first time.

2. Start a breathing exercise or, better, a progressive relaxation exercise, like the one explained in Part III of the Productive Daydreaming Series. This step will help you relax and, afterwards, enter a semi-trance state. Focus on your exercise and enjoy its effect on your body.

3. Once you start feeling relaxed, imagine yourself in a peaceful setting that can serve as metaphor for real-life situations. I often imagine myself in a setting similar to the one in the picture below :
4. Once you are « there », imagine feeling pleasant sensations and focus on making them real. For instance, when I find myself in the setting above, I focus on the sensation of my bare feet in contact with the jetee, while enjoying the feeling of the breeze on my skin and the sound of the waves in my ears.

5. Now that you are perfectly relaxed, it is time to bring in the « what if » scenarios daydreams are made of. Imagine an activity or an experience in the setting of your choice and let your mind wander. Make your « what if » question as open as possible. For example :
What if :
  • … I built a house here ?
  • … I met somebody* here ?
  • … somebody* asked me who I am?
  • … somebody* told me what to do ?
  • … I threw a party in this place ?
  • … I saved somebody's life ?
  • … I wrote my Nobel prize speech ?
  • … I made a leap in time : this will be my life a year from now ?
(*) Somebody = friend, family, famous person, complete stranger...

6. The first 5 steps were easy, now comes the difficult part : when you step back from your daydream, you must write down or record it before it pops out of your mind. As I said before, don’t try to do this the first time you daydream on purpose. And when you do, don’t try to write or dictate more than you really need to remember. Sometimes, a single word is enough. The important thing is to understand your notes when you read them later.
Another way to do this is to answer the questions of a simple questionnaire after every daydream. These 4 open questions are all you need to grasp the meaning of your daydream :
  • What happened?
  • What were my feelings?
  • What were my thoughts?
  • What were my actions?
You will need to write down several daydreams before detecting those leading to an useful idea or to a new and creative connection. Also remember not to expect too much from it. Don’t turn a good habit into a bad one. Chronic daydreaming is definitely counterproductive.

You can go to :
Part I – Productive Daydreaming : Introduction.
Part III – Productive Daydreaming : Discover Progressive Relaxation.

Share with us :
- If you have a similar – or completely different – method of progressive daydreaming, share it in the Comments.

- If you find a picture similar to one of the settings of your daydreams, mail it to The Second Act (see Contact at the top of this page). I would love to publish a collective post showing your favorite locations for productive daydreaming.

Discuss this article here :


Kierlani said...

I read this and I think I might finally understand myself. I am a chronic daydreamer (I think) and I started because I used to brainstorm constantly for story ideas (I'm a writer). But then I stopped writing it down and focused more on the alternate realities. I've been trying to get back into writing it down and I think just reading this helped drive it home. I'm going to write something, anything, down now. Thank you.

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