Why Dabbling Is Good For The Brain

Why Dabbling Is Good For The Brain
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We’re often told to concentrate our time on a single skill so we can really perfect it, but that doesn’t mean experimenting in other areas is a bad idea. Entrepreneur spoke with neuroscientist Jeff Stibel about why dabbling is beneficial.

Photo by Anders Sandberg

If you think that those side projects and part-time hobbies are a waste of time, you might be wrong. Stibel explains:

Pursuing interests in a variety of subjects stretches the mind and pushes the imagination, causing us to be more creative. Dabbling is simply a way of gathering new information and experimenting with new ways of doing something. It causes you to think differently about everything else that you do, a process which can lead to incredible innovation. “The best way to discover something is to take an existing concept in one discipline and apply it to another,” says Stibel…

While you might feel taking a personal-interest course in knitting, for example, is giving your brain a break from the problem solving you spend all day doing, Stibel says far from turning off the brain, taking a personal-interest course changes the challenge for the brain which makes you more efficient and productive when you return to the task at hand. “The way you’re recharging is stopping a particular problem and doing something very different,” he says. While the brain can only handle so much of one task before it starts to shut down, Stibel says it can handle a lot of many different tasks. “When you hit that breaking point and take a break and hit another one, your brain can ramp back up, so you’ll be twice as productive as you would have been otherwise by just doing a single task,” says Stibel.

The point is this: good to take those mental breaks and concentrate on hobbies and other projects sometimes. Even if you’ll never be amazing at them, they’re helping you in other ways.

Why Dabbling Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur [Entrepreneur]