Nothing. Why you should do it.

This #weeklyNRG has a guest writer, my assistant Richard Chen. Richard reminds us how being bored is great for innovation, and problem solving. It is also great for our mental health.


Nothing. Why you should do it.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could think of an innovative idea on demand? Unfortunately, the inability to do so is what makes bright ideas so special and priceless.

That being said why aren’t we doing what we can to at least provide the best environment for innovation to happen?


Well it requires one of the most sacred and rare resources: time, and time tends to be mutually exclusive with ‘successful’ people! Time is needed to do nothing to reach the state of …boredom.

Yes, boredom. Where ‘one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.’ Studies show that boredom allows your mind wander, giving it time to absorb and consider existing problems that you know of.

Dr. Sandi Mann , a boredom researcher explains, “ you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows sort of different connections to take place.”

It’s why some of the greatest inventions didn’t happen during a brainstorming session but rather in the shower, or a similar activity that allowed them to be bored.

3M is one of the companies that takes full advantage of this idea, having a National Medal of Technology to prove it (the US’s governments highest innovation award). They implemented a ‘15% rule’ where scientists and engineers are given the time and space to do whatever they like, resulting in many of their products - including the ‘post it note’!

When was the last time you allowed yourself to be bored? Too many of us feel the need to be perpetually occupied with something. It makes us feel productive, feeds our want for gratification and achievement; just think how amazing it feels to have ticked everything off your long to do list.

I know you might think it’s unrealistic to dedicate a slot every week in a busy schedule just be bored, where it’s likely to have little to no returns. I get it, you could be catching on those emails or following up on that call you promised. But why not give it a go.

When you find yourself with nothing to do and your mind wandering…..Don’t give in….. you might start to crave reading that last chapter of that book or checking that email notification and social media on your phone. Find these moments, get through the initial thoughts and just be bored.

Places to try out being bored.

You are in a long queue. You have woken up earlier than normal. You want to turn on some music in the shower. You want to take your phone into the toilet (Don’t lie!). You want to switch on the radio for this car trip.

So be bored.....start thinking....solve those problems.


Further Reading

This article tells you why being bored is good for you. https://time.com/5480002/benefits-of-boredom/

These three articles talk about how boredom is great for creativity.

https://www.wired.com/2017/01/clive-thompson-7/

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20200522-how-boredom-can-spark-creativity

https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/boredom-and-creativity-070119

Finally this article talks about how we can achieve more https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20170719-how-moments-of-boredom-help-us-achieve-more

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