Productivity: 5 Ways to Edify Creativity and... Get Bored?

What is your attention worth?

Everyday is filled with in-between moments we have the choice to fill up aimlessly or use wisely. As a creative human being, I find any moment to be a creative lesson or outlet. Even the in-betweens have capacity to be a structured use of my time if I am using it wisely, but a lot of my best-used time is considered mundane and boring to many onlookers.

I get my best thinking done when I am in the car and driving. I write stories and narratives in my head when I am walking in the woods or on a city street. I think up some of my best ideas when I am in the shower or in deep conversation with a friend. What I bring away from moments like this is a sense of creativity I normally wouldn’t acquire had I been focused on my cell phone or computer screen. 

Sometimes, taking a break to be bored is one of the best things I can do for myself. 

A little while ago when I had a month to puddle, I found myself bored and feeling rather useless. Despite feeling this way, I decided to do something out of my norm and take a short break from social media for a week. Not only did it realign my mind with the idea that I can actually live a little disconnected, but it helped me to see how much time I spend using apps that are taking away from my in-between time where the creative ideas can flow. Was I focusing on something constructive (like a book, worship music, or listening to a podcast) and structuring my time well or wasting it for larger periods of time with unneeded information?

In April 2017, there was a TED talk on “Why it’s sometimes good to be bored” by Manoush Zomorodi. She argued that the brain goes into default mode, actually getting busy when we are bored because it allows connection to happen and planning to ensue in the most healthy way. Boredom has the capacity to help us take back the holes in our everyday life instead of feeding us with unnecessary information that doesn’t help our brains function well.  

In the talk, she spoke about how our brains used to focus for up to three minutes at a time, but now the average focus time at work has lowered to 45 seconds. This would explain why commercials and brands only have 30 seconds to say what they need to say in a way that is engaging to the mind and why Twitter has become a popular social network for sharing ideas.

Neuroscientist Daniel Leviathan says “every time you shift attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage a neurochemical switch that uses nutrients to accomplish that. When you’re attempting to do four or five things at once, you’re only shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neuroresources as you go… And you have a limited supply of that stuff…” 

When we are working and accomplish a state of flow, much more work gets done because we are allowing our minds to focus on the task at hand as opposed to focusing on two or three things all at once. People are actually more productive with their time if it is being used with a structure that allows for the best optimal work to get done. 

A recent study was just conducted on an office environment where people were allowed to work for only four days a week with the same rate of pay as if they were working forty hours. The results were astounding. There was actually more time to really focus on the things that needed to be discussed in meetings and more work-flow with employees at their desks. They recognized that time was limited for work-related conversation, so the ability to focus went up, and less-important banter and conversation went down. 

When it comes to creativity, it’s important to optimize time, but any creative I know will tell you that it’s important to be a little bored, too, because it’s in the between moments of waiting in line or walking streets that we get some of our most basic and biggest ideas that propel us forward. I think it’s important to put the phone out-of-sight more and let our minds wander both in group settings and alone so that we are able to reach that state of flow or create something that makes us want to get in that state of flow. 

In my experience, knowing more information helps me make my best decisions. Being able to cure myself of boredom might be great, but I think the act of curing ourselves from boredom is really about unleashing the power to create and connect in a way that is edifying and feeding those neuroresources we deplete ourselves of the moment we allow ourselves to be distracted or handling five tasks at once

Here are five ways I’ve come up with to “cure boredom,” and instead, edify your creative side with the phone out of sight: 

1. Find a Hobby: Write, draw, take photos, run, take a class and learn something new. Do something that makes you want to focus all your energy on that one thing. 

2. Go Somewhere New: Road trip to a new state, go somewhere local in your home state backyard that you have never been, go to a familiar city and find a new hole in the wall place you will learn to love, search out new cities to enjoy. Internationally travel, too… Be smart about it, though.

3. Sing: Oh man, just sing. It’s the best thing in the world and probably the most freeing. There’s music playing everywhere you go, and if you don’t know the music, hum along even if its bad. Singing unlocks joy. The only app I endorse keeping on a regular basis is Spotify. Play that stuff till the cows come home.

4. Read a Book: There are books EVERYWHERE. Your library gives them away for free, there are audio books you can listen to in your car now, Barnes and Noble is one of my favorite places to explore new stories and ideas next to the people in my life. There’s never a shortage of something to learn when you’re poking your nose in a new book.

5. Create Goals and Stick to ‘Em: When you’re working toward something you want to reach, it gives your brain something to focus on rather than being distracted by everything or everyone. Creating goals helps you to feel motivated and inspired to go after those things you want to try. 

What is your attention worth?

Time is limited. Learning ways to cure boredom, edify creativity, and fill the in-betweens is free.