The Value of Boredom

Phil Cooke had an interesting post this weekend in which he asked the question,

Is the lack of boredom killing our productivity?

It made me think about my own pre-technology laden days I had as a kid and how I used to spend that time. Times spent riding 40 minutes on the bus, each way, to and from school. Hours spent riding the mower over 4 acres of grass. Summer afternoons spent working in the hot sun on a next door farm. Hours spent driving to and from State College, PA during my university days.

I have to agree with Phil, I believe there is value in boredom as it spurs our creative thinking processes. Granted, boredom isn’t much fun at the time, which is why our brains look for anything and everything to fill the void.  It’s just that now we have found easy electronic devices to fill that void.  Is that now interfering with our natural creative energies?

Many people don’t like to be alone with their own thoughts. Just the idea of it scares some.  I think by growing up with older parents, in a more rural setting without any brothers or sisters living at home, I kind of got used to it.  I would make up games that I would play by myself, take my dog and go horseback riding in the woods near by my house or ride a mini-bike.  During those times, there was no iPod to listen to or smartphone to tweet from.  It was just me and my thoughts – pretty boring by today’s standards.

I think even now, while I enjoy technology and learning about new uses for it, I still look for opportunities to get away.  Some days I will turn the radio off in the car so it can be totally silent. Other times I enjoy a walk or run in outside without technology distractions.  I find it gives my head a chance to “breathe”; a much needed time to get perspective and reflect.

How about you? When was the last time you had a good idea or a creative thought? Was it during the middle doing other things or when you had time just to think and ponder?  Will the next generation loose the ability to value boredom?



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