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Surprising Science

Distraction Aids Creativity

While we consider the ability to ignore distraction crucial to a productive life, recent research shows that creativity is aided by the intervention of seemingly irrelevant occurrences.

“Our culture worships attention. We assume that, when we’re faced with a really hard problem, the best response is to stay focused, to lavish the dilemma with deliberate thought. … Is distractability always a bad thing? The answer turns out to be quite complicated. … The problem isn’t distractibility per se—the problem is distractibility coupled with a failure to curate our thoughts, to monitor the relevancy of whatever is loitering in working memory. Think of the internet like an epic cocktail party, filled with chattering 24/7 conversations. Our goal shouldn’t be to ignore everything beyond earshot—that would inhibit our creativity…”

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