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People Who Can Endure Boredom Are More Productive

People Who Can Endure Boredom Are More Productive

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.

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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.[1] 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.[2]

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.

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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