Handling a break

Productivity is often equated with activity. That, well, is an unproductive thought.Rip open the layers of our unproductive self spent in boredom, to find out why.

Humans in a digital world

In our fast-paced world, we constantly seek to fill every moment with activity and distraction. We scroll through social media, binge-watch shows, or immerse ourselves in endless tasks. However, this relentless pursuit of stimulation might actually be stifling our creativity and problem-solving abilities.Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, influencing the way we communicate, share information, and form connections.


A critique of boredom

With the advent of the digital age, people have access to a constant availability of a vast array of information and entertainment. This can lead to a state of “continuous partial attention” (CPA) where people are always partially engaged in multiple tasks, but never fully engaged in any one task , as stated by Hallowell in a study done in 2005. This can lead to feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction.

Boredom, however, contrary to popular belief, is not a meaningless void. It is fertile ground where our minds can wander freely. When we are bored, our brains are not idle – they are busy sifting through information, making connections, and exploring possibilities. This is when our mind is in a state of default mode network, daydreaming and engaging in spontaneous thought.


Benefiting from boredom

Boredom gives our brains a much-needed break. When we are constantly bombarded with information and stimuli, our minds become cluttered. Our minds are forced to pause, allowing our brains to rest and reset. Our subconscious mind starts working, making connections and processing information in ways that our conscious mind cannot. This is why some of our best ideas come to us when we’re not actively thinking about them while in the shower, taking a walk, or just staring out the window.

Boredom encourages us to explore new possibilities, activities, ideas, and perspectives that we might not have considered otherwise. We are pushed out of our comfort zones and challenged to think differently, sparking creativity and innovation. It thus fosters daydreaming, which is a critical component of creative thinking. We are struck with unexpected insights and breakthroughs. In fact, many great inventions and works of art have been inspired by daydreams. Even Albert Einstein is said to have famously credited his theory of relativity to the imaginative daydreams he had as a young patent clerk.

Boredom also teaches us resilience and problem-solving skills. When we’re bored, we’re forced to confront and overcome the discomfort of having nothing to do. This can lead to the development of new hobbies, skills, and interests, as we find creative ways to fill our time.

Inculcating a balanced view

Though today’s digital age, comprising smartphones and social media, is often criticized for its unhealthy implications on children , it can sometimes constructively help to alleviate boredom, turning into a tool for creativity and self-expression. Photo and video editing apps, for instance, can enable people to create and share their own content. What is important is to find the right balance between screen time and other activities. These tools and more can encourage creative behaviors, through brainstorming, ideation, and experimentation.

About the authors

The article has been contributed by the following students from St. Anselm’s Sr. Secondary School, Abu Road: Chhavi Chouhan, Anushka Sharma, Anjali Kanwar, Ansh Sharma, Mahak Hemnani and Tejasvi Agarwal.

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