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Vincent Tutay

5 steps to productive daydreaming

Zoning out. Flights of fancy. Admit it, you’re guilty of daydreaming at work at one point or another. With tight deadlines always looming, daydreaming implies procrastination, and procrastination means inefficiency. Hence the guilt because inefficiency = bad. But what if I tell you that not all daydreaming is bad? What if you can hack into your staring-blankly-into-space sessions, and daydreaming PRODUCTIVELY to leverage the freedom and creativity of a wandering mind?

Sounds good? Here are 5 steps to help you take your mind for a walk to daydream creatively and productively. Because after all, creativity isn’t always available on tap, it’s more like rain.

Setting a schedule to plan your productive daydreaming session seems counter-intuitive. But even the craziest, most creative of ad campaigns have tons of planning behind them. A method to the madness if you will. You can also think of this as preparation for your brain–a flipping of that conscious switch to tune out the noise–allowing you to more effectively turn your attention inward.

Feed your mind

This should come after setting aside time and planning to daydream. You need to take in a project brief, inspiration and other stimulus beforehand, then clear your mind and allow it to settle and ferment. And the richer the sources of inspiration, the better the brew. It can be that really cool animated digital campaign you’ve seen recently, a truly immersive brand experience you enjoyed or even something as random as an R&B playlist that particularly inspired you. Let them all sit and age within your mind first, like ageing whiskey. Then when it’s time to daydream, crack the cask and take a swig of that heady brew to let inspiration flow.

Sit on the ceramic throne

It doesn’t have to be an actual physical space, though it might help for some. Find a place where you wouldn’t be disturbed in your office building. Take a walk. I’ve heard of some who swear their best ideas come to them while they’re sitting on the ceramic throne. Go ahead, take a crap at it, the point is to take yourself out of your usual physical space for you to mentally space out and daydream productively.

Hands busy, mind free

Engage in activities like free writing, doodling or even colouring. Designers generally go through reams and reams of sketching pads just to arrive at a handful of workable logo designs! You’ll also find inspiration always strikes (most of the time anyway) when you’re doing something completely unrelated. Which then makes that pen or colouring pencil you have on hand extremely, well, handy. Perfect to jot down or sketch out that creative idea. If nothing else, studies like this one, published by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, suggest that engaging in such activities while daydreaming improves creative ability.


It is interesting to note that while modern society places a premium on creativity, we are actually hard-wired to hate our own creativity. So to make our daydreaming session more creative and productive, we must turn off our inner critic. Or at the very least acknowledge it. This way when we find ourselves cringing at a crazy idea we might’ve had and shutting it down, we can go past it and truly let our minds wander.

There are many other ways to take advantage of productive daydreaming, so let these serve as a launchpad. At antics@play, we have brown bag sessions and creativity days to shake things up and to expand on our stock of brain fertiliser. Build on this with personal hacks that work for you to propel yourself into a creative and freer mindspace. And, to borrow from Captain Kirk, boldly go where no mind has gone before!