Many of us don’t consider boredom as a pleasant feeling. It’s a state that we usually associate with the tedious and the uninteresting, be it a heavy textbook, a work seminar or a long commute. However, studies have shown that being bored can actually do wonders for your creativity.
In a recent study published in the Academy of Management Discoveries, researchers found that being bored can improve productivity and work performance. The participants who had gone through the “boring” task of sorting beans by colour later performed better on solving a creative task than those who were made to do interesting craft activity.
In the creative task – which asked people to come up with excuses for being late – the bored participants generated more and better ideas than the other group, as assessed by objective outsiders.
The report concluded that boredom motivates individuals to try new things, or “engaging in different, often unusual, ways of doing things that are unlike typical or predictable responses.”
Scientists around the world have agreed that despite the negative image, boredom is useful for humans.
“From an evolutionary point of view, if you stay in one place for too long … you make yourself vulnerable to predators and you miss out on opportunity costs,” James Danckert, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo told the ABC.
“Boredom is one signal that says, 'you've been here too long, go do something else'.”
With the prevalence of mobile phones and social media, boredom has become easier to evade – stimulation is always just a few clicks away. Peter Enticott, director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Deakin’s School of Psychology said that the effects of digital life on boredom and creativity remain to be seen.
“It’s interesting that we seem to be increasingly less tolerant of boredom,” said Enticott. “Think about people constantly on smartphones, whenever the opportunity arises. The longer-term outcome of this will be very interesting, especially with each new generation who grow-up with these devices.”
Do you agree with the claim that boredom is good for you?
This article originally appeared on Over60.