Get Bored to Stimulate Your Creativity

Nowadays, everything is made to grab your attention – social media, advertising, games – which makes it incredibly hard to focus on one thing at a time. But as the saying goes, “If you pay enough attention, there is nothing in the universe that will not yield to you.” Here are a few tips to help you improve your attention span and keep distractions away from you.

In a TED Talk, author Chris Bailey said that we shouldn’t blame our surroundings for distracting us. He explained that our brains crave tiny nuggets of information. Once we get that information, our brains release dopamine, a hormone that’s associated with pleasure. So, in the end, we want more. “It’s the root cause,” said Bailey. As we try to satisfy ourselves, we fail and are left over-stimulated. That explains why most of us compulsively check our phones, hoping for a dopamine boost. 

How do you fix this addiction? Bailey recommends getting “bored” for a few minutes every day. Try reading iTunes’ Terms and Conditions or watch the clock tick.

…after forcing boredom on themselves, people will find they have longer attention spans, and more plans and innovative ideas. ”

— Chris Bailey

Dandapani (one name only), an entrepreneur and former monk, said in a TED Talk that the law of practice is that we become good at whatever we practice, whether it’s positive or negative. “Most of us choose to practice distractions 13 hours a day, seven days a week. Then you wonder why you are so good at it,” he added. We realize that we are capable of practicing with dedication. But we make wrong choices all the time.

The solution? Dandapani asks us to practice concentrating. This means we should do one thing at one time. If you are talking to a friend, don’t check your phone. Respect their presence and engage with them thoroughly. The same principle goes for your homework, daily chores, and even social media. But it is important to set your priorities right. Prepare a smart time frame for each task and attend to them one at a time. “If it drifts away, bring it back. Let undivided attention be a daily practice,” he advised. 

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, take healthy breaks. Research shows that downtime can help your mind replenish creativity, productivity, and motivation. “Doing activities that don’t rely heavily on the prefrontal cortex function (decision-making) but on different brain regions is the best way to renew focus throughout the workday,” Nir Eyal, an expert in behavioral engineering, stated on Psychology Today. Go for a walk, stretch your limbs, grab a healthy snack or simply doodle. 

Meditation is a time-proven technique too. The trick lies in letting your thoughts flow through your head without actually pondering over them. Focus on your breathing. Working toward mindfulness in this way can gradually give you more personal power.

To sum up, get bored to experience mindfulness, practice focus to concentrate your attention, and balance your efforts with appropriate downtime activities. You may not notice a significant change immediately or even three weeks into your practice. But this should not determine the level of your effort. Know that there isn’t a miraculous day when you will achieve focus. But if you don’t continually exercise the skill, you will lose it.