It seems today that we are on a constant war with boredom. We are almost afraid of it, indeed, almost all of us carry around devices in our pockets that we use expressly to combat boredom. Think about it, what do you do when you’re on a boring journey or are waiting for something? You use your smartphone or something. If this makes you bored you’ll do something else.
I remember on one hour long train journey, I read for a bit, listened to music, played a video game… the reason I kept changing was because I didn’t want to feel bored for a second.
This is made worse by the fact that we now have more forms of stimulation than ever before. Therefore we seek different and more exciting ways to fight of boredom.
Human brain hates to be bored
The brain is hardwired to look for stimulants. Every time we enjoy a new experience, neurons in our brain fire off and we experience pleasure, or a brief respite from boredom. However, after a while, the same experience cease to have such an effect, and as such we get bored. The cycle continues as we look for other things to fight off boredom.
The thing is, even though our brain seeks these experiences out, we don’t need them. We have no need to be stimulated all the time, and frankly, looking for stimulants all the time can have a negative impact on us and our productivity.
Work we find difficult often makes us bored, so when we are faced with having to work on a difficult task for a while, we become easily distracted, our minds beg for stimulation. Lack of interest in something, and a desire for change or novelty are key causes of boredom.
Distraction is a boredom remedy
When faced with boredom, we immediately feel we need to get rid of it. We switch tasks to something that will make us less bored, or we will become distracted easily.
This can be a huge problem if the task you need to complete is of great importance. Imagine this scenario, you’re writing a report for your job that needs to be finished by the following morning. While writing it, you get bored and decide to browse Youtube for a while. Switching like this can be disastrous, creating a risk that you fail the task or even if you complete it, they will be at a poorer quality than they would have been were you fully invested.
These are only some of the dangers we face every day by submitting to boredom.
Master your boredom
This isn’t an article about how to eliminate boredom. Instead this is an article about how to control it, gain mastery of it.
Firstly, you should assume that you’re going to get bored. It’s totally natural and often is unavoidable. Instead of battling this and getting distracted, embrace it. All you need to do is: make time.
Schedule time for distractions
Consider specifically making time for your moments of boredom and distraction, and reconsidering them as breaks. Doing this means that during your set work hours, you are more likely to be focused on your work rather than battling boredom or becoming distracted.
That’s not all, in fact research has shown that taking semi regular breaks during your work can actually boost your productivity and keep you from burning out. Consider working for roughly 52 minutes then resting for 17.
Train up your tolerance for boredom
You may even find that this will improve your ability to focus, and setting aside time can almost work as a form of mental training. For example, if you’ve set aside some time for a break in thirty minutes, the next thirty minutes of work will be an exercise in concentration. Not only will your productivity increase, so will your concentration and ability to work will improve.
A day of work will also be a day of concentration training. Eventually you might even find that your concentration will be such that you won’t get bored so often.
Next time you get bored at work, don’t punish yourself so much, accept it as natural. It’s easy to become frustrated with yourself if you get distracted. But with the above suggestion, you might master your boredom, change it, and turn it into a tool to improve your productivity and make work more enjoyable.
|||^||Psychology Today: Why People Get Bored|
|||^||The Atlantic: A Formula for Perfect Productivity: Work for 52 Minutes, Break for 17|