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How to Overcome Boredom

How to Overcome Boredom


    Have you ever been bored?

    Restless? Fidgety? In need of some inspiration?

    I have a theory on boredom. I believe that the rate of boredom has increased alongside the pace of technology.

    If you think about it, technology has provided us with mobile phones, lap tops, i-pads, device after device – all to ultimately fix one problem:

    Boredom

    We have become a global nation that feeds on entertainment.

    We associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People don’t know how to sit still. We feel guilty if we are not ‘doing.’ ‘Inactivity’ has become the ultimate ‘sin’.

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    What is boredom anyway?

    You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety & stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration and feeds procrastination.

    It’s a desire to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’. It’s a desire for sensory stimulation.

    What it boils down to a lack of focus.

    If you think about those times when you’re bored it’s usually because you ‘don’t know what to do’. So indecision plays a big part.

    When we are focused on what’s important to us and what we want to achieve, it’s pretty hard to be bored.

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    So one answer to boredom is to become focused on what you want.

    Sometimes it’s good to be bored

    If boredom is a desire for sensory stimulation – then what’s the opposite of that? To be content with no stimulation.

    In other words, to enjoy stillness.

    Research has shown that it’s not the ‘boredom’ its-self that causes the frustration, it’s the resistance to doing nothing. Think about it. What would happen if you were to ‘let go’ of the desire to be entertained? You wouldn’t be bored anymore. You would be relaxing!

    In my experience, it’s often the most obvious, simplistic solutions that are the most powerful in life. So when you’re bored, the easiest way to combat this is to enjoy it.

    Sounds weird, but think of ‘boredom’ as a form of ‘relaxation’. It’s a break from the constant stimulation that 21st century living provides. The constant TVs, mobile phones, radios, internet, emails, phonecalls…

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    Who knows, maybe ‘boredom’ is actually a good for us?

    Next time you’re ‘feeling bored’ instead of feeding the frustration by frantically looking for something to do, maybe you can sit back, relax and savor the feeling of having nothing to do.

    Here’s my 3 step strategy to overcome boredom:

    1. Get focused

    Instead of chasing sensory stimulation at random, focus on what’s really important to you. What would make good use of your time? What could you be doing that would contribute to your major goals in life?

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Spend some time in quiet contemplation considering what’s important to you
    • Start that creative project you’ve been talking about for the last few weeks
    • Brainstorm: think of some ideas for new innovative products or businesses

    2. Kill procrastination

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    Boredom is useful in some ways because it give us energy to ‘do things’, so next time you’re bored why not put this good energy to use by ticking off those things that you have been ‘meaning to get done, but have been too busy’.

    This is a great time to clear your ‘to do’ list.

    Some ideas:

    • Do some exercise
    • Read a book
    • Learn something new
    • Call a friend
    • Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write)
    • Spring clean
    • Wash the car
    • Renovate the house
    • Re-arrange the furniture
    • Write your shopping list
    • Water the plants
    • Walk the dog
    • Sort out your mail & email
    • De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe)

    3. Enjoy boredom

    If none of the above work, then try a different approach. Don’t give in to boredom and instead choose to enjoy it.

    Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to be constantly ‘doing things’ in order to be productive. In-fact research has shown that people are more productive when they take periods of rest to recharge.

    So take some time to relax. You never know you might even like it.

    (Photo credit: Bored Woman Sitting via Shutterstock)

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      Zoe B

      A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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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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