The other day, I asked my ten-year-old daughter to take an hour break from technology. I suggested she could read, draw, or drool. “Did you say drool?” my husband said.
I did say drool—I’m of the firm mind that spacing out or staring at a blank wall and drooling (just a little. I’m not suggesting copious amounts here) are essential for creative thoughts. There’s something about letting the brain have a break that opens the possibility for new connections, associations, and insights. The topic of whether or not spacing out is an essential part of the creative process was recently covered in an NPR story, “Bored and Brilliant: A Challenge to Disconnect from Your Phone.” The article explores how smartphones may be negatively impacting our creative lives. The coverage also nicely underscores the point that boredom is a necessary component of new ways of thinking.
At Syncreate, we maintain that technology can be an asset but it is the judicious use of the many technologies that can create the necessary space for imaginative wonderings and wanderings. The simple act of doodling might allow the brain to diverge into the multitude of thoughts, influences, and conversations we have in a given day. Without filling our “brain space” with new stimuli, we become open to the possibilities of connections, associations, and links necessary for creative thinking.
From the NPR story: “Studies suggest that we get our most original ideas when we stop the constant stimulation and let ourselves get bored, Zomorodi says.” This article also asserts that there might be other, deeper impacts of our technological habits: “Studies also show that smartphones impinge on our ability to do ‘autobiographical planning’ or goal setting, which may keep us even more stuck in a rut.”
If you are interested in tracking your own smartphone use and exploring whether or not you might need to draw and drool a bit more, there is a challenge to track your phone usage using an app (which is a funny little irony) called Moment. Beginning February 2, the “Bored and Brilliant” challenge lasts for a week, asking participants to consider how phones might be draining their creatively. If you’re interested, sign up here: Bored and Brilliant.
Either way, we hope that you take some time away from your phone and allow for the connective associations waiting for you inside the boredom.