Let’s hear it for boredom

Is efficiency overrated? When it comes to creativity and innovation, a little boredom may be a good thing. “Experts say our brains need boredom so we can process thoughts and be creative,” says Dilbert creator, Scott Adams. “I think they’re right. I’ve noticed that my best ideas always bubble up when the outside world fails in its primary job of frightening, wounding or entertaining me.” Author and productivity expert, Peter Bregman, returned his iPad because it was “too good”. “The brilliance of the iPad is that it’s the anytime-anywhere computer,” Bregman says. “Any free moment becomes a potential iPad moment…But something — more than just sleep, though that’s critical too — is lost in the busyness. Something too valuable to lose. Boredom.” Innosight’s Asia head, Scott Anthony, says that instead of being “bored” just waiting around, inactivity provides a valuable chance to notice “opportunities that are literally right in front of your face”. During a lull on a business trip to Mumbai, he found himself on a busy street and did just that. “Make a regular habit of just standing and watching,” he says. “You may be surprised by what you see.” Adams is concerned about the deeper repercussions of constant stimulation. “It’s worth keeping an eye on the link between vanishing boredom and our lack of innovation,” he warns. “It’s the sort of trend that could literally destroy the world without anyone realising what the root problem is.”

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