Ready To Be Bored

August 3, 2015

Recently, John, Jayna, Joe, Jen and I attended the July AIGA Luncheon Lecture Series featuring Dschwen creative director David Schwen. The title of David’s presentation was “Embracing Boredom,” and was about how allowing ourselves to be bored fuels creativity. How the little moments of quiet boredom – the sitting on the bus, the waiting in line and not staring at our screens – can lead to big ideas. He’s made a successful career out of it.

David Schwen at AIGA MN. Photo by Jay Larson.

David Schwen at AIGA MN. Photo by Jay Larson.

At the end of the presentation, David challenged everyone to find 30 minutes each day to be utterly bored. I thought to myself, “Hell yeah, I’m totally going to do that”, but as soon as we returned to the office, that transformative feeling faded and it was back to grindstone. Back to the juggling. The multi-tasking. The filling of precious free time by staring down instead of looking up, out or within.

And then last week, while scrolling through FB on my phone (out of self-made boredom), I stumbled upon this Fast Company article, “What Really Happens to Your Brain During a Digital Detox.”

Was the universe trying to tell me something?

Me and about a billion other people.

But for me, it really is time.

It’s unlikely that I spent a full 30 minutes each day this weekend being “bored,” but I certainly kept the phone tucked away more frequently than usual and that’s a start. I went out with coworkers Thursday night and only looked at my phone once, to order an Uber at the end of the night. I played cards with my visiting grandparents without ever glancing at my screen. My daughters and I looked up at the clouds in the sky and found elephants and red-tailed hawks instead of fighting creepers. And I did made a mental list of a half-dozen personal projects I’d like to work on (and not wanting to rely on phone apps, I’ll be picking up some Field Notes today so I don’t lose those ideas).

A three-year old Instagram post from a time when I allowed myself more time for boredom and play.

A three-year old Instagram post from a time when I allowed myself more time for boredom and play.

While I’m not ready to shut down all my social accounts, retire my iPhone or jump on the flip-phone revival bandwagon, I am ready for a change. I’m ready to be bored.

Are you?