4 months ago
As the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, social distancing is the phrase on everyone’s minds, and many people are experiencing extreme boredom while stuck at home. I started writing this article to discover for myself the best way to deal with the sudden boredom plaguing me and find ways to cure it. I quickly found that any Google search will turn up dozens of articles about staying entertained and productive, from developing creative hobbies to practical skill building. The sentiment of every tweet and post seems to be, "This is the time to create! Don’t let this time go to waste!"
I get it. As a musician and creator, having this extra time should feel like a godsend. It’s the perfect opportunity to pump out content and hone my craft, right? After all, it’s believed Shakespeare wrote 'King Lear' during quarantine from the plague — something I’m sure everyone has heard at least once since the crisis started. Every post I see about how we should take advantage of this time makes me feel guilty and a little panicked for not having created something new already. I no longer have any 'excuses' for lack of creating because everyone knows I supposedly have the time.
But there’s something about having so much seemingly endless opportunity that creates a unique type of pressure. With our level of connection via social media, everyone will know if we aren’t productive, shiny, and happy people. Social media helps us feel less alone during this time, but it also has a downside: We end up comparing our actions to the “inspirational” messages and habits of others.
Spending time with your art and learning new things can be incredibly healthy. But what if this time isn’t just an opportunity to do more? What if the real opportunity we have right now is to allow ourselves to be bored?
That may sound like a strange suggestion. Boredom is uncomfortable to us because it goes against the prevalent thinking that we should always be productive; we avoid it instead of recognising its value. Even when we get a moment to ourselves, we spend it trying to stifle boredom in every possible way. Think about all the times you’ve been sitting on the couch watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram at the same time, not even paying attention to your feed because you’re listening to Giannina and Damian fight (if you haven’t yet, check out “Love is Blind” on Netflix).
But here’s the thing: Being bored doesn’t have to be scary or uncomfortable. In fact, boredom may make us more creative and productive. Studies show that people who spend time being 'bored' before completing cognitive tasks outperformed those who were 'entertained' prior. This suggests that letting your mind wander can spark creativity and improve problem-solving skills.
So don’t feel pressured to keep up with all the inspirational suggestions on social media about being productive. Take some time to actively watch TV, read a book, or whatever else brings you joy without pressure.
You don’t have to finish your passion project. You don’t have to do anything great. Allow yourself time to daydream. Your work will thank you for it.
Brianna Calderon-Roman is data strategist at Mckinney