Being bored is good for creativity!

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Most of us think that boredom is a negative thing. We’re continually pushed to always stay busy, always running off to the next thing. Society says that being busy is a good thing and boredom should be kept at bay. But did you know that a little boredom can be good for boosting your creativity? Your boredom can actually be a positive thing and can encourage your mind to daydream, create, and construct new ideas.

A study published earlier this year from Drs. Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman from the University of Central Lancashire to demonstrate this idea that boredom can lead to creativity. They completed two studies. In the first, 40 people were asked to carry out a boring task (copying numbers out of a telephone directory) for 15 minutes, and were then asked to complete another task (coming up with different uses for a pair of polystyrene cups) that gave them a chance to display their creativity.  Results showed that the 40 people who had first copied out the telephone numbers were more creative than a control group of 40 who had just been asked to come up with uses for the cups. To see if daydreaming was a factor in this effect, a second tedious task was given that allowed even more daydreaming than the boring writing task. This second study results showed that 30 people copying out the numbers as before, but also included a second group of 30 reading rather than writing them. Again the researchers found that the people in the control group were least creative, but the people who had just read the names were more creative than those who had to write them out. The study results show that boring tasks like reading, attending meetings, or doing other monotonous tasks can allow people to actually be more creative, whereas writing can squash daydreaming or other creative thinking opportunities. (1)

So, next time you’re bored at work, embrace it and use it as an opportunity to daydream constructively. Don’t automatically turn to playing mindless video games or zoning out on watching too much media. These activities, when done in excess, are instant creativity squelchers. Instead, put media aside, grab a good old-fashioned pen and paper and start thinking creatively about how you can do your job better or take your job duties to a new level. Even if you aren’t a naturally creative thinker, you can still tap into some innovative energy at work. And even though you think you have the most boring job in the world, you can use that opportunity to craft new ideas, tapping into a creative side you might not know you have.

“Being Bored at Work Can Make Us More Creative.” Science Daily.
Jan 9, 2013. Accessed December 23, 2013.


By Brooke Strickland