How common is mind wandering? – If you ask people that question they estimate that mind wandering happens 10% of the time. But it’s actually much more common. According to Jonathan Schooler of UC, Santa Barbara, your mind is wandering at least 30% of the time when you are doing your normal day-to-day tasks, and in some cases – for example, when driving on an uncrowded highway – it might be as high as 70%.
Mind wandering is our natural state of our brains at rest: When people reported that their mind was wandering their brains showed activity in several cortical regions that are the same regions that are active when our brains are “at rest.”
The multi-tasking mind-wanderer: Multi-tasking doesn’t really exist, but mind wandering does allow you to switch focus from one idea to another, and then back again quickly.
The link between mind wandering and creativity: Researchers at UC, Santa Barbara have shown that people whose mind wanders a lot are more creative and better problem solvers.
Christoff, Kalina, Gordon, A. M., Smallwood, J., Smith, R., and Schooler, J. 2009. “Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(21): 8719–24.
- LinkTree: The Team Realty