How to Zone Out

Three Parts:Focusing Your Thoughts ElsewhereZoning Out At the Right TimesBenefiting from Zoning Out

Zoning out has a bad rap, but it actually has some benefits. Zoning out can help you work through a creative problem, alleviate yourself from boredom, and problem solve. To gain the benefits of zoning out, it must be done correctly. Practice focusing your thoughts elsewhere in a variety of ways, from daydreaming to intellectual wandering. Choose situations where you can zone out safely, such as when you're doing menial chores. Use zoning out to help benefit your mind. If you're working on a creative task, for example, try zoning out for an hour or so and coming back to it. Your mind may be refreshed and ready to take on the project.

Part 1
Focusing Your Thoughts Elsewhere

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    Think about future plans. One of the most effective means to remove yourself from the current moment and zone out is by thinking about future plans. If you find yourself stressed or frustrated in a situation, think about your future.[1]
    • When you're doing a menial task at work, think to the future. What do you want to be doing later tonight? What do you want to be doing a year from now? How do you want your life to unfold? Indulge in some daydreams of a happy future for yourself.
    • Some studies indicate zoning out and thinking of the future has some evolutionary benefit. It helps us get a clear sense of what we want, allowing us to make serious plans to achieve our goals. Researchers also find people who zone out to focus on the future have higher working memories.
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    Daydream to relieve yourself from boredom. Daydreaming can be a great way to reduce boredom in a given situation. Daydreaming while waiting for the bus or waiting at the pharmacy can allow you to escape the inherent boredom of the situation. Strive to daydream only in situations where your full attention is not necessary.[2]
    • Daydream about things that are realistic. Studies show that people who daydream about things that are unobtainable tend to be more unhappy. Focus your daydreams on your current relationships and things that could very well happen in the near future. For example, daydream about going to brunch with your closest friends.
    • Daydreaming can help you improve your memory if you focus your daydreams on your current situation. Daydreaming about faraway places and fantasy lands can be harmful to memory. However, you can instead focus your daydreams on places and people that surround you. This can help sharpen your memory as you'll have to imagine faces and images that are familiar to you.
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    Allow your mind to make random connections. One of the biggest advantages of zoning out is that you make connection when you do so. If you're thinking intellectually when zoning out, you may make unexpected connections between disparate themes.[3]
    • Let your mind explore intellectual reveries. If you're trying to read a book, for example, you may suddenly be reminded of another novel, forming a literary connection between the two works.
    • Instead of cutting off this trail, allow your mind to pursue this thought. Zoning out while reading may allow you to make a connection you would otherwise miss.
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    Take a mental vacations. While you should generally daydream about realistic things, it's okay to occasionally take a mental vacation if you're growing very bored. You may, for example, find your mind wandering to a fantasy world from a book and imagining what it would be like to inhabit that space. You may read about a location in Russia and imagine what it would be like to travel there. If you're very bored, and do not have work to do, taking a mental vacation can occasionally be helpful. It may also be very helpful if you're stressed, as this form of escapism can help shut out the outside world.[4]
    • Keep in mind, however, daydreams should mostly be realistic in nature. Limit more fantastic mental vacations to occasions of extreme stress and boredom.
    • If you want to keep your mind grounded in the realistic, take a mental vacation to a place you've already been. Visit a favorite childhood vacation spot, for example.

Part 2
Zoning Out At the Right Times

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    Focus in situations where it's necessary. Zoning out is not a good idea for every situation. You want to make sure you're able to focus when you need to, and you do not use zoning out as an excuse to shirk your responsibilities.[5]
    • Do not zone out during times when you need to concentrate. Zoning out during work or school, or while taking a test, is a bad idea. You should also not zone out in conversation with another person, as this can be considered rude.
    • Avoid zoning out when doing tasks like driving. This could potentially cause a dangerous situation.
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    Zone out to alleviate boredom. If you're feeling bored, zoning out can be incredibly helpful. Sometimes, at work, school, or in your daily errands, you'll find there are moments where your mind does not need to be occupied. If a task does not necessarily excite you or require heavy focus, mind-wandering can help make time go by faster.[6]
    • There are little tasks we have to do every day that can get cumbersome. While you're chopping onions for dinner, it's appropriate to zone out for a moment.
    • Life is full of dull moments that can be made better by zoning out. For example, you may have downtime during work for about half an hour each Wednesday. This would be a good time to let your mind wander.
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    Let your mind wander when you're feeling stressed. Zoning out can be a great way to relieve stress as well as boredom. If you're butting heads with a task, you may be so frustrated you're not getting anything done. Try taking a break and zoning out for half an hour. Then, return to the task with a fresh mind and see if your performance improves.[7]

Part 3
Benefiting from Zoning Out

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    Take a break from a creative task to do an activity that allows you to zone out. Creative types tend to benefit the most from zoning out. If you're struggling with a creative task, like writing an essay or a poem, zoning out can be hugely beneficial. Studies show creative people benefit from zoning out due to unconscious thought. Even when a problem or work is not directly on your mind, it's in the background. The random thoughts you experience when zoning out may help you find the inspiration necessary to complete a problem.[8]
    • If you're struggling with a creative project, stop. Allow yourself to have some distance from the work. Do an activity that allows you to zone out. Go for a walk. Take a bath. Le on the couch and close your eyes for a bit.
    • You'll have a variety of random thoughts when you zone out that may connect to the task at hand. While you may not directly see the connections playing out, you may find it's easier to concentrate when you return to the work. You may find it's easier to complete the projects, as you'll suddenly be seeing connections in the work that you missed before.
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    Problem solve during menial tasks. There are many menial tasks we have to do throughout the day. Things like doing dishes, doing laundry, showering, and more do not require our full attention. These are prime opportunities for zoning out in a way that encourages problem solving.[9]
    • If you're having an ongoing issue, address it when zoning out during menial tasks. You do not need to focus on washing dishes, as it's likely something you do every day. Instead, turn your attention to problems that are weighing on your mind.
    • Say you've been having a conflict with a coworker. As you zone out, think of ways to solve the problem. Imagine successful interactions with this person. Try to put yourself in your coworkers shoes. You may find zoning out during dull moments helps you see solutions you previously missed.
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    Zone out in moderation. You should not zone out all the time. While zoning out in moderation can reduce stress and improve memory, constant zoning out tends to make people unhappy. Most people are happier when they're focused for much of the day and zone out only in moderation.[10]
    • If you've been zoning out for much of the day, try to find ways to focus your attention on the present. You could, for example, observe your surroundings using all your senses. You could also read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or do another mentally demanding task.


  • Where you are can affect this. For example, it would be hard to do this at a crowded birthday party.
  • Use music only if it works for you; some people find it helps them zone out, but others end up focusing on the lyrics or beats.


  • Never zone out when driving or operating dangerous machinery.

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Categories: Relaxation Techniques