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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 December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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