Bored and Brilliant

I was browsing at the library the other day and came across this booked called “Bored and Briliant  – How spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self”.  I was completely intrigued.

After my recent decision to take a mini-sabbatical from private teaching,I am thinking very carefully about how I am going to use this newly-free time.  As someone who has been a pretty serious workaholic, I am trying to be more mindful about how I spend my time.

One of these issues so many people seem to be struggling with is a lack of time. As a working mom, I am always juggling so many different tasks, including teaching, administrative tasks, booking gigs, promoting my online course Piano Skills for Singers and practicing. Add on top of that all the tasks I do as a mom, plus volunteering at the school and the cooking, cleaning and laundry. (So. Much. Laundry.).

Bored and Brilliant is such a fascinating book, because it takes a deep dive into the problems with always being busy and engaging our minds with our devices.  Not having time to be “bored” interferes with our ability to be creative.  Since I’m about to embark on a variety of very time intensive creative projects, I am definitely in need of a tune up.

The book was inspired by the author’s maternity leave, where she spent hours walking her colicky baby around outside in the stroller.  She noticed how odd it was to not have something else going on, and she became aware of her surroundings and her thoughts.

The author Manoush Zomordi, is a host of WNYC’s podcast and radio show Note to Self.  In 2015 she led an experiment to help her listeners unplug and learn to get bored. She wrote this book to expand upon the experiment and share what she had learned about boredom and creativity.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Boredom is necessary
  • Boredom is a state of mind
  • Boredom is productive
  • Boredom is a wake up call
  • Brilliance is slow and sometimes very mundane
  • Digital overload is very real and can permanently impact your ability to do deep work
  • The more we engage with digital devices, the more difficult it is for us to concentrate on creative tasks, solve problems and even just read a book
  • You will retain more information if you read a paper book, rather than an e-reader
  • Taking notes by hand is actually better for your cognition than typing on a computer

She then takes us through a serious of challenges meant to help disconnect from the constant distractions and help us to unlock our creativity and ability to think.

Challenges include:

  • Keeping your phone in your bag rather than your hand or pocket
  • Not interacting with your phone while you are in transit
  • Becoming aware of when you check your phone
  • Removing distracting apps from your phone (I’m looking at you, Facebook)

I followed the challenges and was surprised by what a difference they made to my mindfulness.  I have already dramatically reduced the time I spend on my devices.  I have started turning my computer and phone off when I’m working so that I’m not constantly checking it between tasks.  When I walk or take the subway, I no longer listen to podcasts or music.  I have started to notice my surroundings.

I am noticing that I am able to read books for longer stretches of time, without feeling the urge to check on my phone.  I have started have phone conversations with friends and family, instead of texting and emailing.  I am able to focus on deep work for longer.

All in all, a very fascinating read and one that you might enjoy, especially if you’re trying to get to a more productive place in your life.

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