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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

A Simple Challenge That Will Unlock Your Inner Brilliance

person thinking

Hi, my name is Adrian, and I am an addict.

My commute to work is 18 minutes long, combining time on foot and on the subway. On January 30, I picked up my phone 12 times in that span, and I don’t even remember what I was looking for. This is a problem!

Luckily, I’m not alone, and there’s help for people like me (and maybe you).

The team behind the podcast New Tech City has launched a project called Bored & Brilliant based on the premise that being so connected to technology may actually be killing our creativity.

No, really: Work by Sandi Mann of the University of Central Lancashire suggests that time for aimless thought could be important for creativity. In a study called “Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative?” she gave research subjects tasks of varying degrees of boringness and then used a standard measure of divergent thinking involving plastic cups. Those given the most boring task—reading the phone book—came up with more interesting uses for the cups. “You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy, lazy, junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time,” Mann explains.

So, this week, I am joining over 15,000 other smartphone users and taking part in daily activities to put some distance between me and my device, force me to “space out,” and hopefully create some exciting results!

Each day, I’ll receive an email with instructions for a challenge. I’ll keep a journal (on real paper!) of my struggles and successes then give a recap of the entire experience next week. Care to join me?

Visit Bored & Brilliant to sign up and listen to this 16-minute segment to hear experts make the case for boredom:

On the 30th, I was on my phone for a total of 165 minutes. What would I do if I had that time back? We’ll find out.

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