Boredom, Procrastination, and Chaos: the Secret Weapons
What three "diagnoses" do we dread in today's working world? Maybe... boredom, procrastination, and chaos. Or so you thought. Recently, my eyes have been opened to the powers of these three characteristics.
Boredom = Breakthrough? Procrastination = Progress?
Boredom and procrastination are often universally viewed as detrimental personality traits, but Adam Grant looks at it differently. Grant studies the “originals”, or the thinkers of the world who act to make new ideas and dreams come true. These originals utilize procrastination and embrace failure to broaden their horizons and idea pool. Procrastination keeps your brain working to find new ideas for longer, which might lead to the innovative idea you were searching for.
I encourage you: let yourself be bored.
Those ideas might just be unlocked the next time you choose not to unlock your phone. Manoush Zomorodi takes on the act of boredom and explains how it can be a resource and reset, rather than a disservice. In the age of cell phones, we are never bored—there is always a game to play, a message to send, a feed to scroll. But when people were challenged to take a break from their phone, to take a break from everything, and simply exist, new ideas have the space to form. This idea might even be more creative than another, even if it needs a little procrastination to come to fruition.
Tim Harford describes how chaos can actually lead to creativity. He explains that an experiment was done with students that were given the same content in different fonts: the students that were studying from the chaotic fonts learned more, because they had to work harder. Chaos can cause more intense problem-solving, and thus, more creative ideas and thinking to take place.
My experience with a boredom exercise was a rollercoaster to say the least. I began by sitting on my bed and staring at the ceiling (utilizing willpower to avoid falling asleep). After 20 minutes of anxiety, wondering what I need to do next and how I should be spending my time instead of sitting on my bed. However, I gradually became more comfortable and allowed my mind to wander. This wandering mind, despite any attempts to corral it, runs in a thousand directions, and ideas are not always hard to come by. I didn’t realize how much I’d confined my mind from running its circles of creativity until this exercise, that forced me to put away the distractions.
After the exercise, I realized that with the way my anxiety works, finding boredom in the little pockets of my day may be better than long period of time. Rather than fill these pockets with consuming content, I can spend some of my walks and drives just letting my mind run. I can let my mind make its unique connections that can only come from time.
I encourage you: Let yourself be bored. This boredom could lead to the next Warby Parker, or even just a new solution to something small in your life. Either way, it’s worth it to keep your phone in your pocket while you wait for your drink at Starbucks or while you walk across campus. Stop constantly searching for a task to complete or for content to consume. I know I will—I hope my ideas become all the more creative from it.