How To Leverage Boredom To Boost Your Creativity

Paul Gallagher

I recently read an article in Wired Magazine that looked at boredom and its relation to creativity. The author referred to two studies that showed how people respond to tasks after enduring extended periods of boredom.

Researchers asked a group of subjects to do something boring, like copying out numbers from a phone book, and then take tests of creative thinking, such as devising uses for a pair of cups. The result? Bored subjects came up with more ideas than a non-bored control group, and their ideas were often more creative. In a second study, subjects who took an “associative thought” word test came up with more answers when they’d been forced to watch a dull screensaver.

It is something I have thought about before. My rare moments of boredom are usually disrupted by a notification from my phone or by me checking for any notifications or updates I have missed. But in general, I need little prompting to look at my phone.

It can be hard to switch off sometimes, particularly since smartphones offer more than just a way to call and text family and friends.

They are alarm clocks, bank cards, cameras, music libraries, photo albums, the Internet at your fingertips, and more on one device. Such advances are convenient and very useful, but require you to have your phone on you at all times.

This dependency appears to now be a real issue for some users, as both Google and Apple have responded to customers who want or need to switch off. Both have developed apps that allow customers to limit the time they spend on their phones. The apps show you data on your daily usage and allow you to add limits that attempt to reduce your phone usage.

For those unable to limit themselves even with these add-ons, there are still a number of basic phones out there that only provide calls and texts. Of course, such phones have other benefits. Longer battery life, they’re build to last and, some even have the old Snake game! As appealing as these attributes are, there is little else to be desired in such phones’ design. They are often bulky, cumbersome things to carry around.

However, two companies, Light Phone and Punkt, entered this niche market a few years ago with phones as stylish and sophisticated looking as any smartphone, but with a bare-bones feature set. Customers are willing to pay a high price for these distinctly designed phones, and both companies have been successful enough to improve upon their original designs. Light Phone sold out of its first edition and is set to release Light Phone 2, with minor features added to the original. Punkt also found great success with its first phone and recently released Punkt 2.

Such flashy basic phones come at a price. Punkt phones originally retailed at over €200, with the Light Phone close to the same price. In some ways, I can understand why people are willing to pay this price. Time is a limited resource. If you want to get things done, whether work or personal activities, you could justify the cost. Removing yourself from the everyday notifications, messages, and updates of modern life would be difficult. But if these basic phones do what they say they will do – give you time to think, contemplate, embrace, and encourage those moments of boredom – the creative rewards would be a price worth paying.

Are you working towards a life that is full of activities? Or “Building A Life Of Meaning And Value“?


Paul Gallagher

About Paul Gallagher

Paul Gallagher is Partner Service Advisor at SAP. Outside of work Paul is a portrait painter, writer and has a great passion for conservation, volunteering for Birdwatch Ireland. Paul regularly blogs on his LinkedIn .