Why Allowing Yourself to Be Bored Is Good
The term “bored” often has a negative connotation. Do a Google search of “I am bored” and most likely the next phrase that comes up is “what should I do?”, as if being bored is a disease in need of a cure. However, being bored doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing if you take on a different perspective.
In fact, a study published in the journal Academy of Management Discoveries revealed that one’s boredom can actually lead to individual productivity and creativity. In this research, the people who were asked to sort a bowl of beans by colour, one by one, were discovered to have performed better on idea-generating tasks than those who were asked to do an interesting craft activity.
Of course, don’t take this to mean that you’ll have to force yourself to be idle so that it could spark your creativity. It doesn’t work that way. Doing that will only lead to your tasks piling up, and you certainly wouldn’t want that. The type of boredom that can stimulate your imagination is happenstance, something that happens when you’ve completed all your things to do. You have free time to do whatever you please – whether to watch that buzzworthy new TV series on Netflix or play that trendy videogame on your new PS5 – but still end up feeling bored. In times like this, don’t beat yourself up as you could actually be on the road to a more creative and imaginative headspace.
Yes, it can happen! Here are tips on how to get the most out of being bored.
It does seem contradictory, but who’s to say that you can’t enjoy being bored, especially if you’ve spent the whole of 2020 buried in schoolwork and your piano lessons while babysitting for your neighbours? There’s nothing to be ashamed of if a day comes up in your daily planner with zero tasks and nothing to check off on your to-do list, which can be extremely stressful. Take this time to recharge your batteries and enjoy it.
We’ve been so reliant on our technological gadgets that the minute we find ourselves doing nothing, we instinctively reach out for our mobile phones and tablets. If you’re having the urge to do this, stop yourself and keep those devices out of your reach. Don’t fall into the temptation of searching for new apps that help fill your time or looking for memes of the day. It’s a hard habit to break, for sure, but a few hours being without your cellphone won’t kill you.
Say yes to mundane tasks!
Perhaps there’s a task you’ve put off for so long because you think it’s too boring or it wasn’t that urgent in the first place, like sorting your wardrobe by colour or organizing your computer files. Give these tasks a chance and try your best to find joy in it. Seeing a closet where your clothes are arranged by shade is definitely pleasing to the eyes, right? Or an organized file setup on your laptop means you’re able to find what you need easily. Doing these small duties also allows you to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Now it’s time for “autobiographical planning.”
This is a term coined by cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists like Sandi Mann of the University of Central Lancashire and the author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom is Good. Mann believes that when one is bored and lets their mind wander or daydream, the possibility to do autobiographical planning becomes much stronger, where we examine our lives, look at the big (or small) moments, and set a goal for ourselves and think about the steps to reach those goals. This is when your creativity will most likely kick in.
So the next time you find yourself bored, don’t fight it. Instead, embrace it with all your might! The process will have its rewards.