It’s hard to walk through the long halls of South Foundation before class and spot people who aren’t on their phones trying to stimulate their minds somehow. I don’t know what they’re doing; playing games, checking Instagram, reading the Rec Center’s blog is the most likely option…whatever it is, they may be keeping themselves from boredom, a feeling scientists say is important to one’s being creative.
Following is a definition of boredom so we’re all on the same page: “the aversive experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity.” That’s a great definition, scientists. Kudos.
Anyway, when we experience this feeling, we tend to daydream about what to do next or what we could be doing at that moment. This process allows us to make new connections in our brains and find new ideas. So you see, feeling bored isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe the next time you’re waiting in line at Starbucks, instead of staring at your phone, you’ll start to daydream and come up with your most creative idea yet. And think about how many people claim their great ideas have come to them in the shower! In addition to increasing creativity, boredom can encourage us to take on new responsibilities and seek out more opportunities as we strive to rid ourselves of the unwanted feeling of boredom.
One thing I have learned this year is that you have to take breaks. I’m one of those people who thinks, “Hey, I’ll just do all my homework for five straight hours and then I won’t have to do anything tomorrow.” But that just doesn’t work. By the time I get to hour three, I’m burnt out. You have to let your mind “reset” by taking frequent (but short) breaks while doing homework, working, or any other unappealing activity.
Here are some ways to waste time in healthy spurts:
- Leave the building – Get out and go for a quick walk.
- Get up and reply in person – Instead of sitting in front of your computer all day, get up and walk to whomever you’re emailing if possible.
- Listen to music – Music is a great way to keep your break lengths in check; just tell yourself that you’ll listen to three songs and get back to work.
- Surf the web – This one is dangerous for some…avoid websites like Facebook where you can get “sucked in.” Instead, check out news articles or blogs; they may even give you the new idea you’re looking for.
- Write out a gratitude list – Write down a few things you’re thankful for in your life. This can de-stress and put things in perspective.
- Power nap – This one is self-explanatory.
- Organize your space – Getting your environment in order is a visual metaphor for getting your mind in order and back on track.
- Purge your thoughts – Take a minute to express whatever you’re thinking on paper (don’t put it on Facebook though; people have their own problems to worry about).
So now that you’ve “wasted time” reading this…get back to work!