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Beat the Blahs with The Boredom Manifesto

Beat the Blahs with The Boredom Manifesto

    Most of the time, you keep up with your schedule. You wake up each day, go through your morning routine and then start working. You start doing your stuff. Piece by piece, task by task.

    And most of the time, it’s boring.

    Many times it feels far better to just do nothing. Sometimes you feel like relaxing in the backyard but you have a business meeting you really have to attend. So you get up and go.

    Other times you feel like watching that game on the couch, but you promised yourself you’re going to run 5km today. So you get up and go.

    You don’t enjoy it, but you finish it. You go to that meeting. You do your 5km run. And then the next one. And the next one.

    And at some point when you really look back and try to understand how you did all the stuff that you did. You look at how you achieved all that you achieved.

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    Then you realize that — statistically — the boring periods in your life were far longer and persistent than the joyful, motivating and enthusiastic ones.

    It’s true. Just look back and see for yourself. Have you really been all that high for your entire life? Were you enthusiastic all the time? Exhilarated? Pumped up? Adrenalized?

    Nope.

    But you got out and did your stuff. You somehow managed to cope with the boring moments and fill them with things you wanted to do.

    The Beauty And The Boredom

    As human beings we are wired to follow pleasure and reject pain. Many daily activities are centered around this pattern. We do what we enjoy and repel or postpone what we don’t. I did it myself for quite a while:

    “As of today, I’m gonna do only what I like to do.”

    Guess what? After I went like this for a while I wanted to measure my output. Surprise, surprise: turned out that by doing only what I liked, my throughput (in terms of tasks, goals achievement and so on) was lower than expected. As a matter of fact…it was way, way lower.

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    Did I feel well during that time in which I actually indulged in pleasurable tasks? No doubt about that.

    Did I do more? Nope. Absolutely not.

    So, that was the moment when I learned how to do the motivation trick. Every time I wasn’t at my best, I started to use some motivational stuff. A quote. A quick and easy exercise. A personal mantra. Or a blog post (I even made a list out of them — and it turned out to be quite a popular list). And for a few years, this motivation trick did the job.

    But then something even worse happened.

    I realized that by pumping myself up each time with outside stimuli, I was actually lying to myself. I was no better than a dog in a Pavlovian experiment. I was feeding myself sugar bars, trying to replicate the natural and honest exhilaration responses I would sometimes get. A fast and easy sugar rush to the brain and — boom — my task was done.

    But as with every sugar rush, there’s a huge downturn. After the sugar has left, you end up feeling miserable again. Which will, in turn, trigger another sugar rush reaction just to get rid of that miserable state again.

    Sound familiar? I bet it does, we’ve all done this…

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    So, there was a moment when I had no option but to accept boredom in my life. To reshape my entire vision about beauty and pleasure.

    Because if you really look at it, seldom is beauty built in sudden bursts of exhilaration — in those huge and powerful adrenaline-empowered jumps. More often than not, real beauty is built with small chunks…with small steps…with small (but constantly fulfilled) promises.

    The Boredom Manifesto

    So that was the moment I came up with what I call The Boredom Manifesto. A few sentences that are making me accept and make use of boredom instead of sugar-coating it using motivation tricks. It’s not motivational, as it doesn’t try to embellish the reality or even to make it look different.

    Boredom is boredom. It’s part of life. All of our lives.

    So we’d better make use of it instead of rejecting it.

    For every tiny task I finish when I really don’t want to, I know there will be a reward somewhere. I don’t need it right now, I just know it will be there when I’ll need it.

    For every boring activity I bring to an end, knowing that it’s part of a bigger plan, I’ll have a better picture of my life.

    For every pushing through, there will be more muscles.

    For every unpleasant, yet necessary stuff I finish now, there will be less striving tomorrow.

    I decide to accept and embrace boredom as part of my life, for it’s in its dull, flat and grey moments that all the greatness I’m capable of is built, grey second by grey second, flat minute after flat minute, dull hour after dull hour.

    As long as I keep pushing forward.

    Embrace the boredom…don’t fight it. It’s in those moments of boredom that you’ll find some of the brilliance you’ve been looking for in your life.

    (Photo credit: Bunch of Sad People with Happy Man via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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