Originally sent via email as a Letter. Subscribe here or over to your right in the side bar.
Our home has tennis balls all over the place.
It’s not because we’re huge fans of Wimbledon or because we’re crazy and play fetch with our dog inside the house.
It’s because of boredom.
Owning your own business, being a part of a growing startup, trying to help your corner of the world at a nonprofit: these are all high-stress jobs that require a lot from you.
They aren’t jobs you can go to, sit down, get the work done, and then leave it behind at your desk.
You’re in it.
You’re doing a million different things all the time.
You don’t dream of sheep: you dream of your to-do list at night.
It’s imperative that the rolling ticker tape of a to-do list gets put on hold sometimes, even if for a second.
It’s imperative that we create space within ourselves before we dive back in.
As a creative, I need to have that space when I write.
Finding that space is really difficult - there’s always music, podcasts, lists, webinars, and more things to fill my time with.
As soon as I have a couple of free minutes I fill it with a task.
I rarely let myself get bored.
But studies have shown that boredom is key for creativity.
It makes a lot of sense: by creating space in your brain you're actually making room for your next great idea.
It doesn't have to muscle it's way past your task list or push its way through the muck of stress.
How do we find this magical place of boredom?
Remember those tennis balls?
I bounce a tennis ball against a wall to create space within myself when I’m stressed, stuck on a particularly tricky brand messaging framework, or can’t figure out a great headline for a home page.
Boredom isn’t just sitting in silence and quieting your brain.
It’s repetition in order to reconnect your brain to your body, helping them get back in sync with each other.
It took me a while to find my method of intentional boredom, but tennis balls work wonders for me now.
I turn my music off and just bounce for a while, focusing on the rhythm.
It's pretty damn boring.
How can you be more intentional about getting bored when you’re feeling stuck?
If you’re like me and can’t sit still for a guided meditation, I’ve got a few options for you.
Take your headphones out (yes, no music or podcasts) and try:
Running or walking
Coloring a mandala -shout out to Jessa who uses this method
Washing the dishes
Playing basketball or catch
Playing a game of solitaire or shuffling the cards
Folding the same form of origami over and over again
All pretty boring tasks if you do them over and over again, but the key is that you intentionally put yourself in a boring space.
And please, this isn't yet another to 'hack your brain,' it's a way to work with your brain.
What do you do to get bored?
(new hashtag movement? #getbored? Anyone?)