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Boredom Can Be Good For You

Boredom Can Be Good For You

Being bored will help you be better at what you do
Big yawn

    There are a great many books, web sites, and training courses today more or less dedicated to the idea that being bored is a major sin, for which the only cure is to find ways to be busy and productive every waking moment. People who follow this idea are constantly on-the-go — any feelings of boredom quickly smothered with yet more activity.

    At work, at home, at play, each moment must be filled with things to ward off the slighest possibility of being bored. As a society, we’re over-stimulated to the point of mania, like hyper-excited children in those few moments at a party before it all goes wrong and everyone starts crying. I suspect the rise in ADHD isn’t only due to eating strange chemicals in the diet; we’re training ourselves to require continual distraction, reducing our attention-span to less than a few seconds before we’re bored again.

    It used to be only teenagers who sighed, “I’m so bored!” Now almost everyone acts as if not having something truly exciting to do every moment is either the first sign of senility or — much worse — positive proof that they, and their careers, are gone, past it, over the hill, on the way towards oblivion.

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    Yet boredom is, in reality, crucial to any ability to be truly productive, let alone effective. If you’re flat-out busy and engaged all the time, you may feel important, but the reality is different. It’s those who are constantly distracted with activities who are most likely to be headed towards a nasty let-down.

    Busyness is a great excuse for becoming tired and repetitive

    The trouble is that people who are afraid of being bored soon become too busy to stay effective. In all their rush and haste to stay active, they have no time left to think about what they are doing, let alone add any new tricks to their repertoire. Besides, just sitting around in some classroom learning stuff is so . . . boring. I want to be out there, in the thick of the action, doing things.

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    Of course, being so active makes you tired, but resting is boring too. With the help of a lot of coffee, some superficial excitement, and a great deal of sheer determination (plus youth), you can get through on remarkably little sleep. And once you get into the habit of keeping your mind racing, ready to leap into the next crisis, you’ll find it hard to sleep anyway, until you are so exhausted your body rebels and knocks you out. Who cares what this is doing to you, physically and mentally? That’s years away, whatever it is. Plenty of time to worry about that when you’re old.

    It’s not true, sadly. A large proportion of Americans are chronically sleep-deprived: a situation that is known to have serious present and long-term ill effects on both body and mind.

    How boredom will help you towards success — if you let it

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    Being bored turns your mind inward and encourages reflection. When you’re rushing about, there’s no time to think. When you’re bored, there’s nothing else to do but think. The fashion today may be to admire action heroes and denigrate the power of the mind, but fashion never made anything right. With time to consider what you’re doing and why, you may just come up with some useful questions about the direction you’re headed in. We may be living in an age full of self-regard, but that doesn’t mean people spend much time in introspection. It’s more like they keep looking at themselves in a mental mirror, seeing how they look on the surface. They don’t go any deeper.

    Boredom is nearly always essential to creativity. It isn’t true that creativity is mostly sparked by having a specific problem to be solved. It’s far more likely to arise because the person is bored with the way something has been done a thousand times before and wants to try something new. That’s why new movements in technology, the arts, and even public life usually start when there are still plenty of people polishing and refining the current approach. They don’t begin because what is being done now is totally played out; they begin because a few people decide that’s boring and start playing around with how to change it.

    Boredom stimulates the search for better ways to things like nothing else does. How many improvements in processes and ways of producing things have come about because the people doing the job are so damn bored with going over same thing again and again? My guess is that it’s the single biggest spur to working smarter, far exceeding cost-cutting or abstract ideas of ‘constant improvement’. It’s become a truism that vast amounts of creativity and improvement are available from simply asking those who do some job how they might do it better. Those dull places where processes never change, and people spend their working days with minds numbed by boredom, relieved only by gossip, get that way because the people in charge are control freaks who can’t stand that anyone might have an independent idea.

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    Boredom is an essential step in falling asleep and getting enough rest. Watch almost any animal. If they’re stuck somewhere with nothing to do, they go to sleep. It’s the natural thing to do. We do it too. People usually can’t sleep because their minds are too active. They’re thinking about what they will do tomorrow, worrying about what they did today, or mad because they ought to be asleep and aren’t, and lying here wide awake is so boring. If they would only give in to being bored — relish how dull everything was and how there was nothing to do or think about — they’d be asleep in a matter of moments. But their minds are trained to seek constant stimulation. Even when they fall asleep, those minds fill the night with dreams of frantic activity. No wonder they wake up feeling tired.

    The next time you find yourself saying, or thinking, that you’re bored, be happy. You’ve just been handed a gift you can use in any of these ways. If you do, you’ll find that being bored is sometimes the very best state to be in.

    Photo credit: Jessica Lim

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    How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once

    How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once

    A lack of productivity leads to a lack of happiness.

    When you can’t see yourself making progress or getting things done, you get anxious and become stressful.

    There are also tons of things that contribute to unhappiness here too: Facebook notifications, emails, texts, and chatty co-workers are just a small fraction of the disruptions we’re bombarded with. These “little things” can stack up fast and lead to hampering your happiness and productivity levels.

    Learn how to be productive with the 11 tips below and reclaim your everyday productivity and your happiness, once and for all.

    1. Be happy now

    Life is too short. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, be happy now. Start by finding something to be grateful for; everyone has at least one thing to be grateful for.

    Most of the world still has trouble getting access to clean drinking water… yhat means you can even be grateful for that bottle of Aquafina you’ve got on your desk right now.

    2. Finish your day before it starts

    Proper planning is the secret to peak productivity, and it’s also a good idea to set daily goals. Get yourself a planning tool and prioritize your daily tasks with it.

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    Here’s a smart technique on planning and prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    3. Celebrate the small wins

    Every time you check off a task from your to-do list, you release a “happy chemical” in your brain called dopamine. This gives you the motivation to move forward and do even more.

    For example, after I finish writing this article and I’ve crossed it off my list of things to do today, I’ll get a nice burst of “happy chemicals” releasing in my brain. The best part? Zero side effects!

    Learn from here: How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals

    4. Leverage like there’s no tomorrow

    Look for ways to use the good old 80/20 rule by identifying tasks that you might be able to outsource or leverage out to a virtual assistant.

    Stop wasting time doing things that don’t challenge you or ignite your passion. Hire out or automate anything and everything within your means.

    Check out this guide to find out how to start to delegate: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    5. Recharge your batteries

    Figure out how many hours of sleep your body needs and make sure you get it. Take time to stretch, walk, or relax—you’ll be glad you did.

    Here’re some simple ways to relax completely and get rid of stress.

    6. Become an early riser

    This is one of the most underused productivity “hacks” on the planet. Ever since I decided to start waking up at 5am every day, my productivity levels and happiness have gone up dramatically.

    Most people aren’t up that early, so no one can bother you or disrupt you from what you want to do. Use this time to exercise, meditate, or to get a head start on your day.

    Not sure how to wake up earlier? Here are 11 Ways To Become an Early Riser Like Most Successful People Do.

    7. Do work you’re passionate about

    Make it your goal to blur the line between work and play by doing more things you’re passionate about. This promotes happiness both inside and outside of the workplace.

    Find what you’re passionate about and do it, or learn how to enjoy what you do with these tips: How to Enjoy What You Are Doing No Matter What

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    8. Use time blocks

    For example, when I wrote this article, I gave myself a one hour time block. This prevents unnecessary dilly-dallying like updating your Facebook status and checking email.

    Use an app like Alarmed to keep you on track.  Here’s a snapshot of the app from my iPhone.

      9. Avoid interruptions

      Interruptions are among the biggest barriers to both productivity and happiness. Every time you’re interrupted in the middle of a task your level of productivity takes a hit.

      We’ve all been there: you’re fully immersed in an important project until all of a sudden the workplace chatterbox appears out of nowhere and starts talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. By the time she’s gone, you’ve already forgotten where you were and it takes 30 minutes to get back on track.

      Avoid this by letting people know that you’ve got important work that’s got to be done.

      Learn more about how to stay focus in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

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      10. Shut down the digital disruptions

      iPhones, mailbox notifications, twitter, facebook, and everything that pops, slides, or fades in and out of your screen has got to go. Shut them down and focus.

      It’s as easy as turning off the notifications or scheduling only a specific time to check all these notifications and texts.

      11. Measure your success

      Every now and then, it’s a good idea to measure your results and see how things are coming along.

      How’s your progress? Are you pacing in the right direction? Are things getting better? Worse? It’s always a good idea to track your progress regularly.

      With an app like Rescue Time, you can easily keep track of the time you spend throughout the day. It helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task and so you can review your progress.

        With these 11 effective ways to improve productivity, you will get more things done timely and become happier.

        Start small and take up each suggestion one by one, you can boost your productivity and create your happiness too.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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