How To Use Boredom To Your Advantage With 11 Helpful Tips
When boredom hits, it can be game over. You want to slide off the couch and onto the floor in a whining mess, you want to quit what you're doing, or you want to immediately occupy your mind with something more fun. But what if you can turn boredom into productivity? What if you can channel that god awful feeling into a motivator to kick start some goals or to improve your skills? Or what if you can use that down time as a way to unwind and spark creativity? It's all possible!
I know what you're thinking, because I thought it, too. I thought back to the last time I was bored, and how I spent over an hour mindlessly scrolling through Instagram as the Golden Girls played on TV, and how there was no possible way I could turn that dark moment in my life into something positive. But if you have a game plan ready for the next time you feel those dull times approaching, you can be better prepared to make it work for you. So here's your game plan. Below are 11 tips on how to use boredom to your advantage — get ready to slay.
1. If You're Bored Doing The Same Task Over And Over Again...
Re-frame your boring task with a new angle. You're not just doing the same thing over and over again. Rather, you're becoming more skilled at it and increasing your proficiency. Lifestyle writer James Clear at Lifehack pointed out, "It’s much easier to fall in love with doing something over and over again if you can look forward to making progress." Whether it's doing Excel work at the office or making the same old dinner at home, see it as a stepping stone to becoming a master.
2. Let It Motivate You To Think Of Projects
You know when you lie on the couch for an hour, dying from boredom, and then finally snap into action to entertain yourself? Use that feeling. Dr. Sandi Mann of the University of Central Lancashire was quoted by educational site Open Culture as saying, “Being bored is not the bad thing everyone makes it out to be. It is good to be bored sometimes! I think up so many ideas when I am commuting to and from work – this would be dead time, but thanks to the boredom it induces, I come up with all sorts of projects.” When you feel that bout coming along, lean into it and let yourself come up with all sorts of projects and ideas to change things around.
3. Use It As A Push To Set Goals
When I'm bored, I like to observe why I fell into that funk and use it as a chance to game-plan my way out of it. For example, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, authors of self-motivation book The One Thing, advised, "Since boredom is an indicator that your goals aren’t giving you a return on investment, it’s time to focus on the things that you’re truly passionate about. This is where purpose comes into play." If I'm bored with the articles I'm writing, I schedule into my planner a brainstorm session to think of topics I'd be excited to research. Or if I'm having a dull lull on a day off, I make a goal to write up something creative for just one hour, letting my imagination run free. It gets you productive and proactive.
4. Take It As A Chance To Immerse Yourself
If you're bored out of your mind, take that break in activity to immerse yourself in info. Business writer Janet Choi at career development site The Muse advised, "When you find yourself with a few extra minutes in your workday, immerse yourself in that stream of current events and catch up on relevant news." See what's happening in your industry or catch up on your favorite inspirational blogs. Check out sites that can motivate you, or simply reach out to friends you've been meaning to connect with. Take this down time as a chance to catch up on things.
5. Or A Chance To Learn
Whether you have nada on your schedule or need to take a break from a dull task, use that available time to immerse your brain in some learning. Whether that's brushing up on a new skill or picking up a book that can help you advance in your career or passions, use that time productively. Choi offered, "Check out Open Culture for a great collection of links to free courses and language lessons, and Lifehacker for great course picks that change every semester." Check them out for next time!
6. Look Forward To The Result Of The Task You're Doing
Say you hate putting together reports. Rather than thinking about how flippin' boring writing that report is, change your focus to the end result, instead. Clear explained, "I find that I have more success in situations like these when I shift my focus away from the actual task and toward a result." What will finishing that report give you? Will you become better at your job? Organized and on top of things? Will it give you a chance to show the team how on track you all are? Look at the end result, not the boring task itself.
7. See It As "Step One" In Creativity
Often times when I have a boring day off, I'm practically itching to write again by the evening. Why? Because my brain got its lazy day, and now it's practically cartwheeling with ideas. Huffington Post explained, "Instead of thinking of boredom as a waste of time, try to look at it as a necessary rest for your brain that can leave your mind feeling refreshed and rejuvenated." So don't see it as a waste of time. Instead, realize that it's just the first step for a bout of creativity.
8. Check Yo Self
Are you feeling bored because you're not really embracing how great the situation is slash how lucky you are? Lifestyle writer Aletheia Luna from self-development blog Loner Wolf explained, "Ingratitude is like a frenemy because it fools us into believing that there is something perpetually “better” than what we have." So take a sec and appreciate what you have at that moment. A great job that could become more rewarding with some effort? A chance to go try something new with your free time? Or even a chance to kick back and relax? Take that moment of boredom to check your dissatisfaction.
9. Use It As A Chance To Try Something New
Rather than going on Facebook or texting your friends, use that boring free time to try something new. Huffington Post offered, "If you use the extra energy you have when you’re bored to try a new activity, you’ll enjoy your time and learn something, whereas if you’re just scrolling through Instagram, you won’t really have gained anything." Go to the gym, try a new hobby, dip into that DIY Pinterest board — anything!
10. Use It To Reflect
With your down time, take it as a chance to reflect on how you've been spending your time. Choi recommended, "But taking a little time to reflect can increase your self-knowledge, help you maximize your potential, and shed some light onto areas where you can improve." It might just jumpstart you to kick your butt into gear.
11. Use It To Practice Mindfulness
Rather than scrambling to try and entertain your brain, use that moment of boredom to practice mindfulness. Huffington Post explained, "Doing nothing is the essence of mindfulness, the practice of focusing one’s awareness entirely on the present moment." Tap into your situation at that moment and think about how lovely it is to be there, to be you, and to have nothing to do. It's like meditating, and it'll help you settle.
So the next time you want to melt off the couch with boredom, try doing these tips instead!
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