The Value of Boredom
Why seeking boredom improves your thinking
We work hard to eliminate boredom, but should we? We live in a time of instant entertainment and gratification. I confess that I’m addicted to it. If I’m in line and realize I may have a whopping 30-seconds of standing still, my hand gets twitchy, instantly reaching for my phone to provide entertainment or distraction. It doesn’t matter what I look at on the phone, though it will surely be pointless nothing, my thirst for continuous entertainment gets satisfied. But again, is that a good thing?
Through reading Deep Work, I realize that an idle mind can be a beautiful thing. Throughout history, many of the deep thinkers were known for their habits that let their minds rest and wander. And, that wandering led to breakthroughs that changed the world. Einstein and Darwin were both known for taking long walks to improve their thinking.1
It turns out that problem-solving isn’t always best left to the conscious mind. Have you ever been on a walk, in the shower, on a drive, etc., and suddenly realized the answer to your problem? Have you woken up in the middle of the night and known exactly how to solve something? That’s because even after we consciously step away from a problem, our minds dwell on it anyway, looking for the solution.
And, so, we find ourselves back to seeking boredom. How can our brains creatively problem solve in our subconscious if our brains are continually entertained? Through the barrage of entertainment that we feed on, our brains have a steady diet of junk food and no room to make creative and complex connections that will lead to great insights. We need more boredom, more downtime, more pauses in our day. Maybe, like Einstein, we need a regularly scheduled walk that is meant to solve problems. We need to give our minds idle time, so they can expand to reach their full potential. We need more boredom.
Leadership reading from the week
This is the optimal number of hours you should work every day - 7.6 hours is the ideal amount of work per day, 38 hours per week. Give this one a read; the study they talk about is compelling.
Productivity metrics aren’t useful any longer. Here’s a better way to measure what’s getting done - Productivity isn’t about producing more widgets; it’s about getting the right work done at the time that works needs to be done.
As a CEO during the pandemic, I realized my ‘fearless leader’ mask had to come down - I love the honesty and vulnerability of this post.
Something I’m thinking about - a work shut down ritual
Another thing I’ve learned from Deep Work is the idea of a shut-down ritual. It’s a series of actions taken at the end of a workday, finished off by a phrase you say out loud to signify the completion of your workday. Doing this helps your brain to shift out of work mode and rest.
Interesting reading from the week
Dunbar’s Number: Why the Theory That Humans Can Only Maintain 150 Friendships Has Withstood 30 Years of Scrutiny - I’ve always found Dunbar’s Number interesting. We have a limited capacity for friendships, good to know.
Try this science-backed scheduling trick to relieve your anxiety - If you have trouble shutting down your brain, the practice of deliberate worry may be a good one to check out.
Scotland to trial four-day work week, latest nation to attempt shift - I’m seeing more and more articles promoting a 4-day workweek. This is just another country trying it. I think this is a trend that’s coming soon.
Interesting podcasts from the week
Labor Smarter, Not Harder - Start Here - This is an episode from my favorite news podcast about Labor Day, the changing workforce, and the possibility of a coming 4-day work week (as mentioned above).
My Podcasts to check out
Tech Talk Y’all - My tech/comedy news podcast.
Real Pink - I host the national podcast for Susan G. Komen. If you want some inspiration or information about breast cancer, give it a listen.
TechBridge Talks - A podcast about using technology to end generational poverty.
That’s a wrap!
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