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Boredom

The benefit of social distancing and being in lockdown is that I have more hours in the day to do things outside of work as I no longer have to commute or socialise; though I recognise that this is not the case for many, especially families with young children. However, for those on the same boat as me, do you feel that you have more time? I have tried to make time for myself and work on things that I am passionate about, however, a few of my family have complained that they are bored.

I wanted to delve into this a bit more because I was surprised. Isn’t boredom quite novel in the busy world we currently live in? Just the sheer amount of content from news, books, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, to Instagram etc. surely means that boredom is dead, and yet we still get bored. Is it because we do not know what to do with our free time?

Grant Faulkner wonderfully describes boredom in this article as an incessant need for stimulation – I have a tic, an affliction, a virus. When a moment of emptiness descends upon me, I reach for my phone, tap it madly, and hope to find stimulation…My brain craves novelty and stimulation, and I’m caught in a loop of compulsive neediness. I can certainly relate to this, have you ever caught yourself looking for new things on Instagram, what is the latest fad during this pandemic? Baking, cooking, working out, making masks, it keeps evolving every week.

But why is boredom considered a negative thing? The word is associated with the sin of idleness and laziness. We should be productive and hardworking; it is what we have been taught to think – it explains the thousands of articles on how to stop boredom. However, I would like to ask when was the last time you felt the tedium of too little stimulation?

We need to be comfortable with boredom, more specifically, mind wandering. Sandi Mann, a psychologist, conducted an experiment to further understand emotions in the workplace in the 1990s. She found that “People who are bored think more creatively than those who aren’t.” Others have described that boredom can be a powerful tool that invites you to rethink your relationship with the world.

We have been given an opportunity to be bored, I recommend embracing it, we have the right to disengage from our surroundings and let us be in our own minds. Therefore, instead of giving you tips on how to tackle boredom (like the rest of the internet), here are a few tips on how to get bored!

  • Avoid technology when you feel bored – entertainment snacks will make you crave for more; rather than controlling your boredom, your need for distraction will never be satisfied.
  • Recover the joy of mundane tasks – when was the last time you wash the dishes and just allowed yourself to be present at the moment thinking of nothing else? Recovering the pleasure of doing small tasks may build a sense of achievement. This might be the perfect chance to work on that minimalist lifestyle and clear out old things.
  • Let your mind wander – when you find yourself bored, why not pick up a pen or paper and just let your mind wander. See where it leads you, let your mind feed on your own thoughts. It could potentially lead you down a creative path.

Let your mind wander!

Procrastination

When are you most productive?

  • Are you one to plan your work schedule and stick to it?
  • Or do you prefer a deadline, but wait till the last minute to complete your work?

I do not think that there is a right way of doing things, as individuals, we all function and work differently. Some of us like to wake up early, whilst others are night owls are more productive during the evening. Yet, there is a lot of tips and tricks out there to help us build “good” habits to eliminate our desire to procrastinate because it is thought to be a sign of idleness or laziness. In this day and age, the focus is always on productivity. From squeezing more output from one individual to using more technology to bring efficiencies. People are becoming stressed out, where they are “always-on” and love to talk about how busy they are at work.

Though I would like to pose to you – is this necessary? I am not saying that one shouldn’t focus on their goals and be driven; that is why many people choose to have a coach. However, are we not doing ourselves a disservice to step back, pause a little – procrastinate a little? Potentially it might be a positive thing!

Originality

In Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World it explores the premise whether procrastinating can cause creativity. They found that people who procrastinate moderately are viewed by their peers as more creative. However, those who are chronic procrastinators did not have any new ideas. Those are in a rush to get things done first, they also have less original thoughts.

From the research, they found that if you are not intrinsically motivated to solve a problem, then procrastination, unsurprisingly, just sets you behind. However, when you are passionate about coming up with new ideas, putting off the task a bit can lead to more creative solutions.

There is a sweet spot.

Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity.

Adam Grant

The Discipline to Delay – Zeigarnik Effect

In 1927, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik demonstrated that people have a better memory for incomplete than complete tasks. I have certainly experienced this! Once a task is completed, why do we need to think about it? However, when something is incomplete then it is in the forefront of your mind. For example, the dining room in my house needs a light, it is one of the unfinished tasks in my home. Though there is no rush for a ceiling light, especially during these times. However, I am always finding myself thinking about it, especially when I am mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.

Great originals are great procrastinators, but they don’t skip planning altogether. They procrastinate strategically, making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities.

Adam Grant

When you have to stop procrastinating…

Eventually, the task will need to be completed, so there is a fine line when it comes to procrastination, it is very easy to tip it into something negative. If the incomplete task makes you worried or anxious because it will mean you are likely to miss a deadline or you know that there are more serious consequences down the line, if you do not complete the task, then there are ways to help you get started.

  • Start with a small win then move onto the toughest task – a lot of people start with the toughest task first, however, I think this stops me from wanting to move forward as I am freaked out! My suggestion is to start with something that will ease you into the task. Once completed, you will feel good and in control, thus giving you courage to start on the trickiest/toughest task next.
  • Set small goals – break the task down, let yourself have mini wins along the way
  • Pomodoro – I have mentioned this method in another post and I think it is really helpful to break things down. Set the timer to work for 25 minutes distraction free. When you hear the beep you have to take a 5 minute break, even if you are mid sentence. Be disciplined and you will realise that you will get a lot done in a short space of time.
  • Reward yourself – once you have broken it down into mini wins/milestones, recognise a job well done. Something small so that it is easy for you to return to the task at hand
  • Be kind to yourself – It is okay if you slip, we are human after all. If you find yourself procrastinating, just recognise that you have and just stop and go back to the task at hand. Start with a small win again and keep on going.

Happy procrastinating!