This blog embraces boredom.
It contains the antithesis of a call to action.
It asks you to do nothing.
Still want to read on? You should.
Why? Because it provides a watertight, unarguable case for laziness. For daydreaming. For being boring.
The battle of busy
How’s your creativity these days? Feel like your brain is zinging with new ideas and inspiration?
How many of us can reasonably claim we’ve got the time and headspace for thinking and being creative in the insanity of day-to-day work and life?
We’re losing the Battle of Busy, as the brilliant DO Lectures have christened it.
When someone asks you how you are, what’s the standard response?
“Oh, you know, busy busy…”
Busy has become our default. Something to be applauded and celebrated. It means we must be doing great work.
Hmmm. We may be getting a lot of work done, but are great ideas fuelling it?
Because busy is where average ideas breed – if they have time to germinate at all.
The power of the shower
Think about when you have your best ideas. When those moments of inspiration pop into your head.
Is it when you’re sat at your work station, in front of a screen? When ploughing through the unremitting emails? When on your soul-sapping sixth Teams call of the day?
Or is it when you’re out for a walk? In the shower? Driving or cycling? Or even just sat waiting for a train or bus?
Yeah, it’s those isn’t it?
And there’s a very good reason for that – a reason that should inspire us all to embrace boredom and nothingness.
It’s about giving our poor overloaded brains a moment’s peace.
Screensaver mode for the mind
The scientific case for giving our brains a break is simple but compelling.
It’s centred on something called our default mode network. This is our mind’s screensaver mode.
It’s when your brain is not being forced to focus on difficult work or being force-fed information but instead is given licence to wander.
When in this screensaver mode, wonderous things happen in our brains. Thoughts collide. Memories are recalled. New ideas are formed.
And research recently published in National Geographic has shown that this default mode network is most active when we engage in more passive tasks and our mind has the opportunity to wander.
So places like the shower become fertile ground for new ideas – nothing else to do or see, white noise in the background, allowing our unconscious mind to steer the ship.
As Benedict Carey puts it in his book How We Learn: “The mind works on problems offline, moving around the pieces it has in hand, and adding one or two it has in reserve but didn’t think to use at first.”
Celebrating laziness and boredom
So, to reconnect our creativity and start to generate new ideas, we need to destigmatise laziness, author Andrew Smart argues in his book, Auto Pilot.
“We categorise people who sit in contemplative moods as flaky, spacy or lazy.
“But for your brain to do its best work, you need to be lazy.
“If you want to have great ideas, you must stop managing your time.”
And that means getting bored too. Allowing ourselves time to let our imaginations take over.
How many games did you come up with as a kid in a garden or woods with just a stick or a rock to inspire you?
Give your brain a break
Our brains are bombarded with 2 billion bits of data a second. It can process 147 of those.
We need to give it a break. Fight the battle of busy. Put the smartphone down for a while. Let thoughts settle and connect.
There are more neural connections in our brains than there are stars in the known universe.
That means they are capable of incredible thoughts and ideas. They can feed our creativity if we just give them the chance.
So key take-homes from this blog, if you want to power your creativity and great new ideas?
2. Do nothing
3. Get bored
Told you it was worth getting to the end.
By James Morton
Worth another look
Infographic: Where do you have your best ideas?
Infographic: Beating Busy