All right, readers. Dust off your time-machines, and prepare to go back — way back — into the past for a few golden minutes.
Think about your childhood. Remember the games you used to play on your own, even in your own head? The hours you spent in your own imagination? Studying your environment, albeit often passively? Listening to the adults around you blather mysteriously about all that grownup stuff? Getting almost Zen-like, nearly hypnotized in your own body, your own mind, hearing, feeling, experiencing the deep resonances of the universe.
Discovering how two sticks and a rock could create a whole world.
How is it we were all so imaginative then, so connected, and now we can’t let a moment pass without stimulation, without so-called productivity?
The answer is, we were probably bored. A lot. And for extended periods.
And when we were bored, we had no electronic sorcery in our pocket, no device to reach for at the first inkling of that uncomfortable feeling of boredom.
Let’s consider boredom not only a lost art, but a necessary and vital life hack. Developing a way to encourage and utilize boredom can actually increase our creativity, effectiveness, and overall joie de vivre.
Nowadays, we’re all enamored by the frenzy of online trends, breaking news, and those pesky/precious social media notifications. Now we reach for the phone or app at first blush of “boredom,” and therein lies a significant problem.
It’s not only tempting when we’re bored with the task at hand to reach for our phones and get sucked into Facebook stalking, sexy Instagram posts, and Twitter beefs—it’s a compulsion, an obsession.
We’re not bored. We’re avoiding. We’re afraid of what we’re about to do—what we must do. We’re exhausted, and can’t push through. Distraction becomes the enemy of boredom—it’s not the solution.
No surprise, there are definite, researched, and purposeful reasons for reintroducing real boredom into your life, and learning to live with them.
The Academy of Management put out a study in 2018, positing that people who performed a boring task, such as sorting beans, before participating in an idea-generating task, actually outperformed those in the study who had completed a creative art activity beforehand. The results? Research showed that the “bored” participants not only had higher-quality ideas, but a greater quantity of them, too.
What to do when the compulsion rears its head? You’ve hit a wall with the report/code/site/song, etc., and every speck of marrow in you wants to click on your SM feed?
Try pulling out a pen and notepad and doodling, or taking a short walk around the office. Or simply sit in your chair and close your eyes. Feel your body for a few moments. What’s it telling you? What thoughts and feelings, ideas and impressions bubble up from the well of your deep self when you don’t suppress them?
When faced with a task you might loathe — or least feel challenged getting through — becoming bored might be just the right tool for the job. In fact, a bored state is an open state. It can trigger a more creative flow.
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