Why Being Bored is Best for Creativity

Why being bored is best for creativity. Find out why spacing out may be good for you! Wellness and Self Care, Positivity and inspiration, Creativity, Books, Writing and blogging tips #selfcare #creativity #inspiration #writingtips #bloggingtips

The best way to be more creative may include adding a little boredom to your day.

Creativity is the opposite of boredom and seems counterproductive, right? Everyone wants to create something new whether it’s for your brand, product, or in your plain old thought process which can easily become a loop like TV news station. “This just in! You screwed up again.” A new book, Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi explains how being bored and spacing out is linked with creativity. What?

Avoiding boredom.

I hate being bored. Must of us try to avoid it. We plug into to our computers, TV, and phones. We’re busier than ever. When I’m not writing, I’m marketing, adventuring, socializing, taking care of myself, my family, my home, yada, yada, yada. This leaves me very little time to sit around and space out.

Cell phones replace downtime and keep us from being bored.

My phone has become my constant companion and an integral part of my existence. I’m not a gamer, nor am I constantly checking text messages, stats, or social media, but I check on them often enough. Plus, I use my phone to take pictures.

One time, I almost missed a flight because I thought I left my phone in the car. I ran all the way back to the parking lot. When I arrived at the car, I peeked inside and instantly remembered plugging it in at home to charge it the night before. Oopsy. While racing to the wrong end of the terminal (by accident), it occurred to me how I had risked my flight for my phone! It felt weird to be without it all weekend.

Thing is, phones take up the slack of downtime so we’re never bored. Other than when our heads hit the pillow, that state of mind is practically a thing of the past. We are always plugged in, overstimulated, or interacting with someone.

We’re addicted to the endorphin rush too. Think about it. You post a photo. Someone likes it. Wow. You check back in a few minutes and few more have liked it. Yes. That’s a good feeling. Same thing with posts, comments, just about any interacting on social media.

Many people are becoming addicted to cell phones and video games. The stress is making them sick.

Our monkey brains need time to process what happens, to problem solve and to create.

An illustration of my brain on inspiration.

So, when am I bored? While walking my dog on a familiar route, taking a shower, cleaning, and doing laundry. Anytime I’m doing mindless repetitive tasks.

Now tell me when you have your brilliant ideas? Do they hit you upside your head while you’re on a conference call, scrolling through Instagram, or playing a video game? No. Because your brain is active. Get where I’m going with this?

How Manoush discovered the link between creativity and boredom.

Manoush had a hectic life as a journalist. She took time off when she had a baby and became really bored. While she pushed her stroller several miles a day through New York City, her creativity exploded. She came up with a great idea for a podcast.

As soon as she changed gears and started to set everything into motion, coordinating, preparing, and researching, the ideas vanished. Poof! She went into panic mode since she had to come up with new show ideas. That’s when Manoush discovered creativity and boredom were related. The book includes a ton of research to back it up.

Being bored is the best environment for creativity.

That was a mind-blown moment for me.

I thought back on when my ideas bubble up. While driving to the grocery store, cleaning my kitchen, before sleeping at night. The best ideas would come from nowhere when I wasn’t trying to solve a problem.

I’m always trying to fill time by being productive. Now that I know spacing out is a good thing, I try to take time to do nothing. What a concept.

Make space for creativity.

My son, Kelly, tells me that all the time. He took a creativity class at Icon Collective which covered the importance of doing nothing. It feels counterproductive, but it works!

Let yourself be bored. Sit and space out for a while. Can’t sit still? Do repetitive tasks that don’t require your brain to do any heavy lifting. Let go of constructive thinking.

Let your creative mind wander. You never know where boredom might lead you!

Sit on a park bench. Chill out. Europeans have this part down.

park in Paris

Cell phones are very handy for all kinds of obvious reasons but at a cost. Studies show, even if your phone is face down on a table, it has a negative effect. Its sheer presence is enough to hinder conversation. We must subliminally know that we will be interrupted at some point.

Want to know where your time is being spent on your iPhone? Go to Settings. Click on Battery. Scroll down and take a gander.

Many writers walk. Chuck Dickens was known for long ones. Part of the reason was to meet with some of the downtrodden who became the heart of his books. The other part probably to let his brilliant brain percolate.

I met RL Stein who said that he walks his dog every afternoon. I wonder if he gets new ideas for creepy tales from his familiar route.

Now when I’m in the car, or doing laundry, or walking Roxy, I don’t think with purpose. I don’t focus on a particular scene for revision nor do I try to pick apart any other problems. I just let my brain buzz around and do its thing.

Did you know about the link between boredom and creativity? Do you take time to space out and let your mind wander?


Related posts:

How to Be Creative in a World Full of Sellouts

Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

Why Boredom is Fantastic for Creativity. Click to find out how spacing out can help you whether you're a writer, musician, or any kind of creative! Self care, positivity, personal growth and motivation, writing tips, tips, hacks and DIYs, Creative writing, books, publishing #writingtips #lifehacks #bloggingtips #personalgrowth #positivity

92 thoughts on “Why Being Bored is Best for Creativity

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  1. I heard portions of her TED talk on this topic during NPR’s podcast program the TED Radio Hour as I drove back from dropping my son off at camp this year. It immediately resonated with me.
    I think at least 50% of the reason why I keep running despite injury and such is how freeing it is to my thoughts. My body works hard, my mind runs free. It’s boring in the sense that I’m focused entirely on putting one foot in front of the other and the relative energy I have to use to keep running even though my lazy-self wants me to stop. But, dishes-doing, running, folding clothes, these tasks are all excellent invitations to creativity. I want to be sure there is some boredom in my son’s life too. We don’t give enough “space out” time for kids. It’s like they always have to be occupied. In her TED talk, Manoush talks about the effect of unplugging on young people–that they didn’t even recognize some of the emotions they felt when they weren’t connected. In other words, to experience life, we can’t mediate it through constant connection to devices and distractions, we have to do as Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around sometimes, you could miss it.”


    1. Exactly. To someone who was raised without technology, it seems like a no-brainer. To the youth of today, it seems old-fashioned and counter-productive to their social life. I think there will be a boomarang effect. Hopefully. *crosses fingers*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Boredom and peacefulness can possibly be a mix. While I do the household chores, some ideas may strike me and have me pause to jot them down, but I can note it’s seldom. While I often jot more frequently while watching the pigeons (I have four living on my lanai), or oddly enough, cooking a large meal from scratch (which I also find joy in).

        My next blog will be touching on a similar topic…where do you write. It seems we, as writers, find our own space for creativity. And just because it’s not in a secluded office doesn’t mean it’s a poor space. It just may not be a space for another.
        Again, boredom/distration/life…no matter, will interfere…but the creativity will go on. 🙂


        1. Thanks so much for your comment, Gloria! I don’t always have the creative inspiration while I’m walking, but it seems to percolate….then Pow! It’s usually a scene from the book I’m revising. Now, I’m really paying attention.
          That’s a great subject! After seven years of blogging, I’ve never posted about my work space. I need to write about it too. It’s funny how I have a fabulous space but always start in the kitchen so I can spend time with my husband before he leaves for work. LOL!


    1. Yes! Manoush didn’t mention it, but there’s a symmetry in biking, swimming, and walking that uses the left and right side of the brain and body. I always thought my ideas flowed because of that. Now I want to take a bike ride! I better head out soon. It’s supposed to be in the 90’s!
      Thanks so much for the blog love, Carol!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is valuable info Susie!! I need to remind myself. I panic when I think I may be bored. I do get many of my ideas when I walk my dog now that I think of it. Agatha Christie said she got her best ideas while doing the dishes. (good thing she didn’t have a dishwasher, we wouldn’t have all those marvellous books!)


    1. Wow! I didn’t know that about Agatha Christie. Yes! I think it’s important to carve out space for being bored. I’m cleaning my house a lot more often now. Lol!
      Thanks so much, Darlene and for the blog love today!


  3. even if i don´t think that being bored is positive for our creativity, I have to agree with you when you say that we have more ideas (at least me, personally) when I do banal things, like taking a shower, cleaning home, ramblong around… in fact, i feel that my brain is much more active when i´m doing things that are not directly connected to creativity 🙂 thanks for sharing your ideas 🙂 PedroL


  4. Come to think of it, many of us don’t even realize this is happening to us on daily basis. Especially with the smartphones replacing the opportunity to get bored and hence relax. I think is by far the most favorite article of mine by you. You got me thinking so many things and I am practically going to change a few things around in my life!


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