When I first picked up Bored and Brilliant, I assumed it would be another book about creativity. And it is, but it’s so much more. Zomorodi takes a reflective and insightful look into how devices are distracting us. At how we avoid boredom at all costs. And how that avoidance of boredom is hindering our creativity.
Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Creative and Productive Self
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Zomorodi cites research by everyone from Brene Brown to Jane McGonigal to Susan Cain. She talks about the differences between mindfulness and mind-wandering and looks at issues like addiction and social media. But the most powerful aspect of the book, to me, is her Bored and Brilliant Challenge (which is also available in the Moment app, which tracks phone use).
Rather than just being a book that talks about the theory of creativity, Zomorodi empowers her readers to take back their boredom, free themselves from feeling attached to their devices and find their creativity.
The Bored and Brilliant Challenge
- Day 1: Observe and track your phone habits
- Day 2: Don’t use your device while in motion (walking, commuting, etc)
- Day 3: Don’t take any photos with your phone
- Day 4: Delete that app that you “can’t” live without
- Day 5: Take a fakecation (use an away message; shut your office door, etc)
- Day 6: Take time to observe something else (non-digital)
- Day 7: Get Bored and Brilliant – Use intentional boredom as a method to help you brainstorm a solution to a problem
Zomorodi went through the challenge herself, so she includes insights from her own struggles. She also hosts WNYC’s Note to Self podcast, and includes reflections from her listeners who participated in the challenge.
I think an activity like this could be powerful to do as a whole class/grade/school activity. Challenging teachers and students to think about the way they use their devices could be eye-opening. I’m currently working through the challenge and I’m learning a lot about myself. I turned off all my notifications a few months ago (a part of how I’ve been slowing down) and began to be more intentional about how I used my phone, but this challenge is really helping me to take that to the next level. I’m not ditching my phone anytime soon, but I am finding that by using it less, I actually have time to think. I’ll share my challenge reflections next week after it’s done.
Check Out Bored and Brilliant
If you’ve ever worried that spending too much time on your devices is hindering your creativity, this book is for you. It’s great for your own personal development and can also be a powerful tool to share with your students.
Have you read Bored and Brilliant and/or tried the challenge? What did you learn about yourself?