Shower Thoughts…

Level B2.

Do you find it difficult to maintain focus when working?
What are the conditions that cause your mind to wander?
What do you do when your mind is wandering? How do you stop?
When, if ever, is mind-wandering a good thing?

Here are some questions based on an article from The Washington Post by Richard Sima: (it will open in a new tab)

Why do we get our best ideas in the shower?

Before you click on the link above, consider these questions and then do a pre-reading exercise. After you read the article, come back here for some more questions to practice your English.



1. Pre-reading: fill in each gap with one word. Each sentence is an extract from the article.

While most of the ideas occurred at work, 20 percent of their most meaningful ideas came doing something else — washing dishes or taking a shower.

2. The shower effect on creativity is the product of mind-wandering, where your are anywhere but on the task at hand.

3. “So, mind-wandering can be problematic, what I’ve come to call ‘mind-wondering,’ which is sort of playful, curious mind-wandering may actually be helpful,” Schooler said.

4. One study of more than 1,100 respondents reported that their moments of insight came mind-wandering in the shower (30 percent), in transit (13 percent) or during exercise (11 percent).

5. “Does it feel like when I’m showering I stressing out about the same things," he said. "Or does it feel like I’m relaxing and my mind is meandering?”


6. After reading: 

What is the main reason for the "shower effect" on creativity according to the article?

7. According to a 2019 study, what percentage of the most meaningful ideas came to writers and physicists while doing something else?

8. How does Jonathan Schooler describe the spontaneous thoughts in the shower?

9. Historically, what has been the focus of researchers on mind-wandering?

10. What does the term "mind-wondering" refer to according to Jonathan Schooler?

11. What is the "sweet spot" of how engaging an activity is and its impact on creative thought?

12. According to a study, what led to more creative ideas for university students?

13. What is the advantage of spontaneous thoughts in the shower according to the article?