I have long accepted boredom as an effective productivity tool for the workplace, and research supports the idea.
Being bored is a big no-no, especially at work. There’s nothing more terrible than being bored at your desk on a Monday afternoon only to realize there are still 4 more hours left to end the day and the weekend seems too far. Research conducted by the Research School of Management at Australian National University in 2019 proposed that being bored is not bad at all !! Boredom can actually spark creativity at the workplace, especially for people who have longer work hours.
The research process involved fifty-two research volunteers being asked to do a tedious task, sorting a bowl of red and green beans with only one of their hands for half an hour. Meanwhile, forty-nine other research volunteers; also the control group was asked to create artwork using beans, glue, and paper.
Once the half-hour was finished, each group was asked to spend five minutes on a creative task about why an imaginary person was two hours late for a meeting.
It was found that the bored group came up with more ideas than the control group and was more creative than the latter.
A follow-up study took measurements of emotions like frustration and anger. It was found that previous research concluded that being bored leads to a lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at a job. Although it did not produce feelings harmful to mental health. In this case, bored people were just that, bored.
“Boredom is not miserable and harmful. People don’t want to be bored, so they participate in variety-seeking, unique thinking, which brings out creativity.” Guihyun Park.
If we’re bored every day, wouldn’t that be counterproductive? Can we overdo it? “Yes, of course,” says Park. “It’s one of the studies that connects being bored to being productive, although not always.”
So what about the guidelines for being bored? What about other modes of entertainment at work? Park clarified that there are no strict guidelines to optimize boredom at work. Indulging in other entertainment activities makes you social and playful, boosting creativity without making you bored during the entertainment session.
Some types of people are more susceptible to boredom-based creativity than others. Researchers found that research volunteers needed to be open to new experiences and be goal-oriented to see a positive impact from boredom.
In conclusion, Park admits that not every type of work allows the luxury of being bored; it can be detrimental to some job types
“Work where you require all your senses to be heightened. (For, e.g. Police officers), being bored will keep your mind wandering, and that is, in fact, not the best option,” says Park. “These require less creativity and more attention to details. So boredom won’t help much.”
However, being bored is not something to fear, but embraced by designers, creative service provider, and others in a creative field. The perfect way to be productive is to expect nothing of yourself at all.