Related: Attention MOC

Scatterfocus is deliberate mind-wandering

Whenever there is free room in the attentional space, we enter a mode of scatterfocus. When an activity doesn’t consume our whole range of focus, our brain wanders.

The importance of letting our mind rest

A famous study found that Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to prisoners after a break than after they had been working for a long time.

Decision fatigue may lead to simplistic reasoning and failing to consider the second-order consequences of our choices.

Rest when you can’t focus

We cannot focus indefinitely. When it is hard for you to focus on one thing or to comprehend what you are reading, take a break. Ironically, the busier you are, the more you need to rest.

Having our mind wander allows for insights from our environment

When we actually pay attention to our environment we allow it to trigger insights to problems we’ve been churning over. As legend has it, Archimedes figured out how to calculate the volume of an irregular object when he noticed his bathwater overflowing. Newton came up with his theory of gravity when he saw an apple fall from a tree.

Scatterfocus engages the same brain regions as sleep

On a neurological level, dreaming is scatterfocus on steroids. Sleep makes you remember well and connects memories.

So does scatterfocus. Since Sleep is very important, taking a break and letting your mind rest is equally vital for well-being and focus.

In the afternoons, we think more creatively

While we have more energy in the morning, we have less energy as the day proceeds. Having less energy is actually beneficial to creative insight. One study found that we solve 27.3% more creative problems during the time of the day when we are more tired.


This concept is introduced in Hyperfocus - How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction.