Procrastinating at work on Twitter and Facebook might actually make us more productive and have positive benefits on our work and boost creativity, according to new research. “Your random tweets about Android apps and last night’s Glee are stifling the economic recovery. At least, that’s the buzz among efficiency mavens, who seem to spend all their time adding up microblogging’s fiscal toll. Last year, Nucleus Research warned that Facebook shaves 1.5 percent off total office productivity; a Morse survey estimated that on-the-job social networking costs British companies $2.2 billion a year. But for knowledge workers charged with transforming ideas into products — whether gadgets, code, or even Wired articles — goofing off isn’t the enemy. In fact, regularly stepping back from the project at hand can be essential to success. And social networks are particularly well suited to stoking the creative mind. Studies that accuse social networks of reducing productivity assume that time spent microblogging is time strictly wasted. But that betrays an ignorance of the creative process. Humans weren’t designed to maintain a constant focus on assigned tasks. We need periodic breaks to relieve our conscious minds of the pressure to perform — pressure that can lock us into a single mode of thinking. Musing about something else for a while can clear away the mental detritus, letting us see an issue through fresh eyes, a process that creativity researchers call incubation.”
Who — or what — really controls your mind?