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Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi
Published September 2017
St. Martin’s Press
Our devices monopolize so much of our time and attention that there’s no time left to let our minds to wander and think for ourselves.
Bored and Brilliant started as a series on Zomorodi’s podcast, Note to Self, then became the book.
The premise is simple: we’re so overstimulated, specifically with our smartphones, that there’s no room for creativity and brilliance to grow.
It all hinges on mind wandering.
When you cut out the distractions and let your mind wander, it can go to some interesting places. That’s where the brilliance occurs; not when you’re staring at Facebook.
Social media comes under fire, as would be expected, as do the various games and apps that take alarming amounts of time out of our days. Seriously. She suggests that you set a timer to see how many hours you actually spend on your phone during the day. The results will probably make you want to cry.
I thoroughly believe our phones are addictive (and I think I’m addicted). The lights, graphics, sound effects, instant gratification of likes and thumbs up, false superiority of social media fights…it all feeds into the pleasure centers of the brain.
The studies on deep reading and paper books vs. e-readers and audiobooks are somewhat confounding. They suggest that deep reading is best achieved with physical books. I still don’t fully understand how, especially with e-readers compared to paper books. Interesting…but strange. I’ll stick with my philosophy of accepting whatever format brings people to books.
As an experiment, I tried the Bored and Brilliant challenge #1: keep your phone in your pocket or bag during your commute.
It’s a small change, but it was tougher than I expected! I cataloged my thoughts during the drive to work to see where my mind would wander:
Don’t reach for your phone! (as I’m reaching for my phone).
I wonder what’s happening next in my audiobook? (it’s the Crazy Rich Asians series – interesting stuff)
What shall I order from Starbucks?
Composing a Tweet in my head…
Stop composing a Tweet in your head! It’s defeating the purpose!
Wow, the rain sounds nice as it pings against my windshield.
Singing: Well I guess that’s why they call it the bluuuuuues. Time on my haaaands…
In this pre-dawn light, the light rain really is pretty. The streetlights brakelights stoplights paint long puddles of color on the streets.
Singing in time to the windshield wipers: Laughing like children, living like lovers,
rolling like thunder…
Feeling my jacket pocket: Whoops! There’s my phone! Was it supposed to be in my bag, or is my pocket okay? Too bad I can’t Google it right now to check. Hope I didn’t just fail today’s mission.
Can’t see the parking lines…
Inching slowly forward: Where’s the curb? Can’t see it, can’t see it…
Scraaaape. There it is. And now that I’m about to get out of the car, the rain has suddenly picked up. Wonderful!
Watch the video to see other examples of me trying and failing Zomorodi’s other challenges. I completely agree with her in theory! Putting it into practice will take a bit more effort on my part.
Let yourself get bored, Zomorodi argues. Give your mind the chance to meander. Give your brilliant brain a chance to stretch.
Side note: how cool are their graphics?