How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self
by Manoush Zomorodi
- Boredom is healthy – it forces creativity in your brain.
- It is necessary – open gateway to feeding, nurturing, cultivating thoughts
- State of mind – positive-construction daydreaming
- Productive – find meaning at every level of existence
- A wake up call – put down the cell phone and left up your head to the great wide world around you!
- Technology staving off boredom causes bad things:
- ADHD inducing brain patterns
- Reading incomprehension
Challenge 1 – Observe yourself. You can get an app (like Moment or Break Free) and note your use of your phone.
- The presence of a phone during a conversation lessens the quality of the conversation
- Learn to delay gratification by resisting the reflex to check it
- 4 steps to quieting your phone
- Turn off nonvital notifications
- Make sure you do get the notifications that matter to you
- Fight phantom gadget syndrome (no your phone isn’t always going off)
- Remember to breath (people breathe shallowly when checking email, etc)
Challenge 2 – Keep devices out of reach when you’re moving. Look for cool stuff you haven’t noticed on your travels.
- Recognize the purpose of you taking photos. Is it for other people? Is it taking away from the people in front of you?
- If you want to take a photo of a memory, make sure it encompasses a small detail of the memory – you will remember the memory better.
Challenge 3 – Photo free day. Don’t interact with images on social media, either. Just look.
- Apps are meant to create an addition for you. Fight it.
Challenge 4 – Delete that app. You know the one you’re addicted to that doesn’t make you happy. Take it up a notch and delete the whole account!
- Unplug and plan recreation and time away from the office/Internet. It makes you far more productive than the opposite, and being available all the time.
- Set your phone on silent to focus on tasks, you can even get auto responders to texts if you feel like people need to know that you’re doing this.
Challenge 5: Take a Fakecation. Take a pause in your day and really unlug.
Challenge 6: Observe Something Else. Stop looking at social media for mind entertainment. Look out and make your own. Really observe stuff. (Side note: birds are totally identifiable by personality and plumage and such. How many of us have taken the time to watch birds who frequent our yards?) Upgrade it by recording what you observe, in a journal.
- Meditation can dampen your creativity. Mindfulness is the opposite of boredom/mind wandering. Make space for both. Active open-minded awareness, where you’re non-judgementally open to other thoughts is good.
- Grid prioritization a la McKeown – every ninety days go off-site and ask yourself what’s important in your life.
- Make a one page life design in the form of a grid to idenitfy top five roles. Do it in pencil so you can revise.
- Every morning before you start to reach for the phone, is make microadjustments to how your life needs to fit those roles.
- This is “existentialism” – almost everything is nonessential and a few things are incredibly valuable.
- Ten Second Mindfulness practice:
- Think of a person that you care about
- Think “I wish for this person to be happy.”
- Maintain the thought for three breaths, in and out.
- Do this every day to turn your wish for other people’s happiness into a habit . . . that will bring you happiness too.
- Identify an aspect of your life that you’re confused by, avoiding, or downright terrified to think about. What issue drives you to literal distraction?
- Set aside 30 minutes where you’ll be free from distraction. Watch the pot boil. OR take a piece of paper and write “1,0,1,0” in tiny writing until the paper is full.
- Immediately after, sit down with a pen and pad and put your mind to the task of solving the problem you identified in step 1.