Boredom: Your arch nemesis. In this time of non-stop technology, it gets a bad rap. It’s one thing that you never want to admit to. Thanks to the mobile device in your hand, you can all but stave it off forever. However, boredom is not all bad. You may spur creativity by daydreaming and allowing the mind to take an alternative route. Ideas and solutions can suddenly erupt from this non-focusing brain exercise.
Instead of looking at boredom as a waste of your time, look at it as a part of the creative process. You must spend several hours a night sleeping to give your body a rest. Why not the same for the brain? A little brain processing downtime might be a good thing!
Some research results suggest that boring activities could result in creativity. In one study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers found that those who were bored outperformed others who were relaxed, elated, or distressed on tests of creativity. In another study done at the University of Louisville, researcher Andreas Elpidorou wrote, “Boredom helps to restore the perception that one’s activities are meaningful or significant.” In the total absence of boredom, we can remain trapped in the same situations and unrewarding outcomes.
First off, change the label you have placed on boredom. Let’s refer to it as a “temporary cognitive vacation.” Who doesn’t like a vacation, right? If you could take a momentary vacation after your busy day, would you say no?
Here are two tips to help: TIP #1 Make time to take a temporary cognitive vacation (aka being bored). Put down the phone, turn off Netflix, and just do nothing; giving your brain a break from constant stimulation. It may be a modern lifestyle challenge but it can be done easier than you think. Try to build it into your daily or weekly schedule or allow it to occur randomly. TIP #2 Use temporary cognitive vacation (aka boredom) to your advantage. Stuck on brainstorming? Creative brain cramp? Step back and switch your brain to the off position. Go for a walk, bounce that random tennis ball against the floor, wall, and back into your hand (like many movie famous movie scenes where someone is trying to come up with an idea). Take advantage of your brain break and see what happens when you come back and revisit the same creative challenge. If you aren’t on a tight deadline, see if ideas can form naturally over spurts of boredom.
So, if you’re looking to get more creative, get bored. It may be that simple!