Why boredom could be the key to success
27th December 2020

IN an age where the average attention span is thought to be worse than that of a goldfish, doing nothing could be the secret to happiness (and success).

Never have those two little words “I’m bored” been uttered so much by all ages than in 2020.

When lockdowns one and two curtailed our activities and left us housebound, it was no wonder that Curtis Roach’s Bored In The House song gathered 44.6 million TikTok views as the novelty of banana bread and Zoom workouts wore off.

In an age of Netflix and smartphones, boredom has become an alien concept – and one we’re not too comfortable with. And as we say goodbye to family and our Christmas reprieve comes to an end, you might be left dreading January and the return of tougher restrictions.

However, according to a study recently published in the journal Academy Of Management Discoveries, embracing boredom can actually spark productivity and creativity.

“Some scientists believe that our attention span has significantly decreased, from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2015, resulting in a reduced amount of quality human interaction,” Dr Guy Lubitsh, author of Connect: Resolve Conflict, Improve Communication, Strengthen Relationships explains.

“That would make our attention span shorter than that of goldfish, which are able to focus on a task or object for nine seconds.

"In this fast-moving world, and with more technology, our brain demands continuous stimulation, which means that we have stopped allowing ourselves to be bored.”

Hanging on the telephone

Chances are you’re glued to yours, but the presence of smartphones in our lives has left us desperate for stimulation.

Scrolling through social media or shopping online gives our brain a hit of feel-good chemical dopamine.

The more we do it, the more our brain craves it and the stronger those neurological connections become.

From traffic jams to TV ad breaks, our phones have become our go-to for passing the time.

In fact, Ofcom has revealed that people in the UK now check their smartphones on average every 12 minutes, with two in five adults looking at their phone within five minutes of waking up.

“There are so many distractions these days that if we are not actively involved in something, it can feel quite foreign,” says psychologist Dr Khanya Price-Evans. “Culturally we like to ‘make the most’ of things and time, so are used to being stimulated.

"If we’re not engaged in an activity, we’re not ‘making the most’.”

Maxed out

Productivity guilt has become a familiar feeling for many of us as we juggle ever-increasing work hours with family and social lives.

So when everything stops, we continue to search for ways to maximise our time.

“Boredom can initially seem aversive, hence we reach for the smartphone immediately”, says Dr Price-Evans. “You can experience quite strong feelings of agitation, too.

"However, if you stay with the boredom and move through that anxiety, you actually start to tap into thoughts and creativity that you’re usually too busy to notice.

"Too much boredom, though, can cause thrill-seeking behaviour or could indicate a lack of motivation, so it is about finding a balance where you don’t automatically distract yourself as soon as you are not receiving external stimulation.”

Busy doing nothing

While pressure mounted to make the most of our time in lockdown by taking on language courses, baking contests and knitting a jumper or two, Dr Lubitsh believes that stillness and reflection can be just as productive.

“Doing nothing has many advantages, ranging from an opportunity to reflect on what you’re grateful for, to coming up with new innovative ideas at home or work,” he says.

“It is very important that we challenge the stigma around boredom being a waste of time. If used well, boredom can actually provide some much-needed downtime.”

Child’s play

If that’s all sounding a little too laid-back for the “do-ers” among us, Dr Price-Evans suggests embracing our inner child.

“Being bored can really make you discover your interests. This is very true with children – we tend to think that children should be busy and hate the idea of them being bored,” she says.

“However, allowing a child to be bored will allow them to discover their own interests.

"A major skill in life is learning to be OK without constant distractions – so allowing children to feel boredom is very healthy.”

Bore yourself to success

Boredom may help you succeed more than you think, according to Dr Swart.

“When we are bored, we ignite a brain network called the ‘default mode’. This gets us thinking subconsciously – it’s where problem-solving and creativity live and it’s called autobiographical planning.

"This is when we take stock of our lives, set ourselves goals and figure out how we can achieve them.”

How to make boredom work for you

1) Reframe the narrative

“We need to change the way we see boredom and think of it as a creative opportunity, helping us develop our real interests,” says Dr Tara Swart, neuroscientist and author of The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life.

“We struggle to be OK without distractions but it’s important to push past that uncomfortable phase.”

2) Find a balance

“This is an opportunity to engage in mindfulness,” says Dr Swart. “Monitor your thoughts as they drift in and out, gaining creative insights, self-awareness or improved emotional mastery.

"Focus on those more introspective activities like taking time to think, journalling and meditation.”

3) Be intentional

“Instead of finding yourself in the throes of boredom due to circumstance, make the conscious decision to do nothing,” Dr Swart says. “Not only will this make it more purposeful so you regain control, but you still reap the rewards of giving your mind the time and space to wander.”

4) Change the scenery

“We can take boredom to be a sign that we are in need of a break from the norm or a change of scene,” Dr Swart explains. “So take this as an opportunity to go for a walk in nature, do some exercise or engage in some deep breathing to help oxygenate the brain.”

  • Get more! Find out the six steps to cure a fear of needles at Fabulousmag.co.uk

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article