Finding Creativity in Boredom
How many times have we heard that someone has their best ideas in the shower? Is that because showers are one of the only times that we are required to be “unplugged?”
Last month, SGR’s 10 in 10 highlighted an article on a topic that I have been continuously pondering for the past few months. In One woman’s plan to take your creativity back from your phone — by making you bored, Adam Wernick explored a project called “Bored and Brilliant” and the over-utilization of our smart phones and other media outlets. The brief article highlights Manoush Zomorodi, blogger and host of the WNYC podcast New Tech City, who’s most recent post included a one-minute video on digital detoxing.
In the article, she describes a story from her childhood where she gathered all of the plants at her house, named them, and then performed a concert for their benefit. She said she did this because she was bored! In general, society is no longer bored due to the invention and proliferation of the smart phone and, Zomorodi argues, the amount of time and attention we give to our smartphones prevents us from putting our brain into “idle mode.” Her latest project, Bored and Brilliant, studies the intersection between boredom and creativity and encourages us to turn off our phones and spend more time on creative thinking. To assist with her project, she created an app called Moment that tracks the amount of time that you spend on your smart phone each day and how often you check it.
A few months ago, a group of girlfriends and I completed a social experiment that required us to go without media for an entire week. Our media fast included television, emails that were not strictly work-related, texting, and social media. For an entire week! After my complete addiction to Facebook was demonstrated during the first day when I could barely contain myself to not catch a glimpse of my constantly updating newsfeed, I managed to overcome my non-media boredom. Instead of television, I read an entire novel during the week. I was also more present with my children and my work tasks list was amazingly completed during daytime hours. The week taught my friends and me many things, but I think the biggest message was this: we need simplification in our daily lives.
At work, how many of us use our email inbox as our to-do list? Does everything that is important to your community transform into an email? Then why do we let electronics determine how we spend our time?
When was the last time that you spent a significant amount of free time pondering the strategies of your management or the challenges of your community? Have you been able to find boredom? Or do you look to the latest newsfeed, tweet, fantasy sports ranking, and so on to fill the time you could be spending immersed in the boredom that leads to creative innovation? Imagine the creative renaissance your organization would experience if exposure to media was limited and high-level strategies were pondered!
Whether you try the Bored and Brilliant method or utilize the Moment app, I challenge you to unplug from all media outlets for five to ten minutes each work day and concentrate on strategies for your organization. Where is your organization today? Where is your organization going? How are you going to get the organization there?
Let’s find out where boredom and creativity can take your organization.
Executive Search Manager