Web Developers Default-Mode Network (DMN)

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What Is It?

The Default-Mode Network (DMN) is a concept that the brain is more active when the body is passively resting (daydreaming, mind-wandering), rather than say, at school attentively listening to the teacher.

The term was coined by a neurologist in 2001 Marcus Raichle. It’s only recently in 2007 that research has been picked up on this. And now I believe we have more answers.

Web Developers Default-Mode Network (DMN)
Daydreaming again, man?

The DMN presents more brain activity when we’re passively resting e.g. doing absolutely nothing staring into the blankness that is in front of you (this may happen between workout sets), gardening, or any other area where you might see yourself daydreaming.

Passive rest means resting without you knowing you are doing it. It may be hard to imagine, but in 1 day you are committing to 80% habit/routine, and 20% of unique action.

And in that 1 day, you include passive rest (daydream) 2 minutes or so. Maybe you take a short nap too? It’s in these nothingness that the brain becomes more active than it would be learning something new.

Uses of the DMN

Now that we know more about the brain e.g. the Subconscious mind floods more than 95% of your brain (the part where dreams are), and you can only control 5% (Conscious) of what you do.

Yet, that 5% seems more intensive to the brain and is where learning something new happens.

That means we can use the DMN for:

  • Mind breaks, where you do a completely different task for 5 minutes, after 25 minutes of work, using the Pomodoro Technique
  • Understanding that daydreaming is a good thing (to get some headspace)
  • Tapping into the Focus/Flow state

There’s an amazing section on Wikipedia stating the functions of the DMN (same thing really):

Mind-wandering usually involves thinking about others, thinking about one’s self, remembering the past, and envisioning the future. [1]

Web Developers Default-Mode Network (DMN)
Just activating my Default Mode Network… I’m busy at the moment.

Any Downsides to Using the DMN?

There are still downsides to using the DMN, in that:

  • Once you are not daydreaming, then you stop using the DMN
  • You don’t want to be there always. But anyway, that’s impossible to do so
  • Using the DMN is not your main priority, but instead to be more productive!
Related:  The Human Mind Project — as a Web Developer

It’s good to know that the DMN exists, so that we can say ‘daydreams are very good’.

But we must understand that we need to get back to work!

The DMN for Web Development

Boiling all this info down to a few pointers would be that:

  • We should take 5-minute mind breaks from the computer/work, to do a completely different task
  • It is okay to daydream, but please do it after an intense coding session
  • If you cannot find the answer now, do something completely different, and you will most likely come back with an answer!

Does the DMN Help With Flow State?

Yes. But they are not the same thing.

The DMN is basically daydreaming/mind-wandering.

Whilst the Flow State is being ‘in the zone’.

So if you use the Pomodoro 25-minute timer, then:

  • 25 minutes = Flow State of focused work
  • 5 minutes = DMN Mind-wandering/Daydreaming

How about that? 🙂

Final Thoughts

The DMN is an amazing recent discovery by scientists, that we should be glad they confirmed daydreams as productive.

Because, at the end of the day it’s not about time management, but looking deeper it is Energy Management.

As in, ‘is what I am doing a good use my energy, therefore keeping me focused and determined to go for the long shot?


If you’ve enjoyed this post, try my Flow State for Web Developers article. 🙂

Web Developers Default-Mode Network (DMN)
Flow state is the same whether you’re deep into code… or deep into shredding flips.