If you’ve never thought of boredom as productive, you may be surprised to learn that boredom boosts productivity. However, as with most things, you have to do it the right way. As strange as it sounds, there’s a specific way to be bored that actually helps you accomplish things. So the next time you’re feeling bored, use it to your advantage.
Boredom’s a Break
Productivity doesn’t mean working 24/7. In fact, working extra hours often hurts your productivity. In one study, people who worked 70 hours didn’t accomplish any more than people who worked 56 hours.
You may need to take a break sometimes. Boredom is a break from the hectic pace you’re used to keeping. Even if you’re sitting in a boring meeting, your mind isn’t having to focus in the same way it does when you’re doing more intensive tasks. This reduces your stress, leading to better mental health.
Enjoy the break and relax into the boredom for a short period. When you go back to work, you will feel more refreshed. This is just one way that boredom boosts productivity.
Time to Pause and Plan
The Harvard Business Review discussed a University of Melbourne study with the researchers. The study found that people are more productive when they look at nature. The reason is simple – it gives the brain time to pause from whatever else you’ve been doing and to calmly think about what you want or need to do next. It’s a time for letting ideas and strategies come to you naturally without stress.
Opt for Strategic Boredom
Author Josh Kaufman uses strategic boredom to be more productive. While this may seem like a more extreme method, Kaufman states you have to remove all the distractions you’d usually go for when you’re bored. Suddenly, the boring task ahead of you is the most interesting thing available.
He even talks about turning off the Internet completely, if possible. Boredom boosts productivity because boredom becomes the only thing you have to do at the moment, even if it’s a task you’d rather avoid. Giving in to that boring task versus searching for something else to do can also lead to additional productivity benefits.
Boredom Boosts Productivity and Creativity
While Kaufman is definitely on to something with strategic boredom, diving into a boring, especially-monotonous task has been proven to also increase creativity. This is good news for your productivity since creativity helps you generate new ideas, create better plans, and feel overall more excited about your next task/project.
The study, which was published in the Academy of Management Discoveries, shows that boredom isn’t such a bad thing after all. The study shows that when people first do a rather boring task, they then perform better on a creative task. In this case, the creative task was an idea-generation task.
While the researchers proved that boredom boosts productivity, they also found that boredom doesn’t have to lead to other negative emotions and consequences. Manipulating boredom, such as forcing yourself to endure a boring task, just makes you feel more bored during the task. It didn’t lead to anger or frustration as the researchers thought it might.
Doing Boredom the Right Way
Boredom boosts productivity, so you should just sit around and be bored, right? It’s not quite that simple. The idea is to do something boring that doesn’t require much concentration.
Usually, boredom is your mind’s way of telling you to find some other type of stimulation. For boredom to work in your favor, you need to manipulate the feeling to your advantage. Trying to find distractions to avoid the boredom simply distracts you from work and may even prevent your mind from relaxing.
Instead, try to just let your mind wander. Skip common boredom busters, such as watching TV or playing with your phone endlessly. Let yourself sit and daydream. Go for a walk, especially if you can go outside and gaze at nature.
A monotonous task that takes little concentration also works. However, you should avoid activities made specifically for relaxation, as these tend to require more concentration, such as meditation or yoga. You want your mind free to wander instead of thinking about your breathing or next movements.
The next time you’re feeling bored, close your eyes and enjoy it. See where your mind takes you. Have some paper and a pencil ready when you’re finished, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to plan your day or come up with new ideas for a client or project. Plus, when you sit down to work, you’ll feel less bored and less distracted.