There’s nothing worse than sitting through a mind-numbing meeting or presentation when someone’s droning on endlessly about something you couldn’t care about if you tried.
But when it comes to creative thinking? There might be nothing better.
As David Burkus explains on Harvard Business Review, two recent studies found a strong link between boredom and creativity. In short, people who were subjected to monotonous, repetitive, or otherwise uninspiring tasks (think reading the phone book) then asked to think creatively or brainstorm ideas far outperformed those who were not subjected to the drudgery.
Why? Turns out, when our minds are bored, they seek inspiration. The studies’ authors, he writes, “suggest that boredom boosts creativity because of how people prefer to alleviate it. Boredom, they suggest, motivates people to approach new and rewarding activities. In other words, an idle mind will seek a toy.”
I know—this knowledge is likely not going to make those all-hands meetings any more exciting. But it can certainly make them more productive. Next time you have some big-picture thinking, writing, or team brainstorming to do, schedule it for immediately after a tedious task or session. Your brain will be extra motivated to do its best possible creative thinking. Or, as Berkus suggests, try starting your days “spending some focused time on humdrum activities such as answering emails, making copies, or entering data. Afterward…we may be better able to think up more (and more creative) possibilities to explore.”
Photo of meeting courtesy of Shutterstock.
Scott Dockweiler crafts witty headlines, writes fun articles, and generally lends a hand to the editorial team at The Daily Muse. When he’s not Musing, he’s trying to get his acting career off the ground and racking up Delta Airlines frequent flier miles between NYC and LA. You won’t find him on Twitter—yet.More from this Author