Winter is officially in full swing as of last weekend in Plattsburgh. When temperatures reach 15 below zero before factoring in wind chill, you’re bound to stay inside for as long as possible.
When students are avoiding the death sentence that is the outside world, staying in is the safe and smart option. Lounging around on a freezing Friday night leads to something college students experience when they can’t get drunk and party all over town.
Last weekend, I stayed in every night because of the frostbite inducing temperatures. In return, I was bored for three days. I still had my friends and lots of snacks to occupy myself but in those quarantined days, I thought I’d lose my mind. Boredom comes about when there’s a lack stimulation around you. It can make people want to either rip their hair out or possibly inspire them to try something new.
When we’re bored, we may have a few go-to tasks to help snap us out of our funk. We could scroll through applications on our phones until our eyes get tired, listen to music, read or try sleeping off the boredom.
People are always trying to get past their boredom but maybe we need to start embracing the boring lulls in life.
Being bored for a bit is the break your mind needs to become more creative and productive. When someone is bored, their mind wants stimulation. When they’re bored for a long period of time, and then asked to do a creative task, their level of creativity would be much higher than before.
University of Central Lancashire researchers Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman examine how boredom affects creativity in two studies. In the first study, participants were either assigned the boring task of copying numbers from a phone book or put into a control group, which didn’t copy numbers.
When participants were asked how many uses they could come up with for a pair of plastic cups, the ones who had been copying numbers had come up with significantly more uses for the plastic cups, according to Harvard Business Review.
In the second study, Mann and Cadman created a third group for testing. The third group was assigned the task of reading a phone book. When asked the plastic cup question again, the group that showed the most creativity was the third group. As the boredom increases, so does creativity shortly after.
Being bored can sometimes be hard today because of all the different forms of entertainment we have access to. Shutting down the many distractions around you is a nice chance to be alone with your thoughts for a bit.
Many writers and artists find that “shutting down” the Internet is key to restarting their creative thinking process. There are tons of websites and apps that can actually temporarily shut down the Internet and other computer distractions to ensure proper efficiency. The free applications FocusWriter and WriteMonkey, for Windows users, create a distraction-free screen, leaving only a writer document in full screen view.
These applications are helpful because of the many temptations we face while skimming around online. It’s too easy to open up your laptop and accidentally waste 45 minutes on YouTube watching utter nonsense. The Internet is a gift to the world but a huge distraction to the average college student. Quieting the outside world might be what students need to get bored for a while.
When I’m doing work and suddenly realize I’m daydreaming more than writing, I shut everything down and sit quietly for a little while. When I’ve relaxed and gathered all my thoughts, I get back to work with ease.
Being bored isn’t something to dread or complain about. It’s a chance to clear our heads of our usual restless thoughts and start fresh. Get bored and watch your creativity follow.
Email Laura Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org