Photo by Suvodeb Banerjee
I treat my earbuds rough, so every year or two they break. And every time, as I walk around the world without a constant soundtrack of Spotify and podcasts, I think to myself, “I really ought to do this more often.” And then I have ideas.
Note to Self podcast host Manoush Zomorodi explores the creative power of boredom in her TED talk, “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.” Like any TED talk, it’s littered with vague anecdotes and factoids about brain chemistry, but there’s also practical advice like deleting an addictive app for a day, or using a tracker app to realise just how much time you’re spending on your phone each day.
We have plenty of practical advice for snapping out of the info-addiction habits that keep you from creative boredom. But the main function of this talk, like so much self-help, is just to get you in the right mindset. It’s that tap on the shoulder: “Hey, maybe put down your phone today.”
Many of us who’ve struggled with creative work know that we have to allow ourselves to get bored, that we can’t simply work on them when we’re “in the mood.” That’s the difference between a hobby and something bigger. But a decade into a creative career, I still need reminders like this. Otherwise the temptation of constant podcast listening, phone fiddling, and TV watching takes over. The fight to maintain some boredom never ends. So let this be your reminder.