My hypothesis for this episode of brain farts is that actively seeking boredom can lead to a zoning effect where ideas have time to gestate and lead to more well-thought ideas.
If generating ideas is viewed as a connection of experiences, opinions and opportunities, not creating an environment where these concepts have time to permutate might return suboptimal ideas.
I mentioned boredom, and I will mention the zoning out effect, so I think it’s worth point out the difference between them early on.
I view boredom as an active frustration in someone’s lack or enjoyment of an activity. (in my experience, a weird tension in my body) My experience of zoning lacks quite a lot of physical presence, I do not have any sort of awareness in my body towards the present moment.
With that being said, I think that even before we zone out, we experience a feeling of mild boredom. Our reluctance to lean into the boredom doesn’t enable us to zone out.
I seem to catch myself running away from it like crazy. Where? To more information.
In addition to “100% productivity hustle mode 24/7” being very popular right now, the content we consume mutated into the perfect trap.
Opening the gates to content creators means that what we consume is not only at scale, but personalised. (more niched content creators, more chances that whatever you are searching for fits exactly your interests and delivery style)
Ten to fifteen years ago, if there wasn’t something on TV, if I wasn’t in the mood to read or no one wanted to play outside there would be quite a lot of moments where I would just stare at the wall, fidgeting with something.
Now, the only time I get those Dr. House moments are in the shower or when I am doing the dishes. I tried to find patterns in the contexts of these “aha” moments:
Shower ideas = ideas that mutated in an environment where there is very little external output, where someone’s immediate attention is occupied by some physical activity that has repetitive steps and a clear outcome. (same applies to washing dishes, running, mowing the lawn, taking a walk – your brain knows what the outcome is so it lets the body do it’s thing)
Now, it gets even a little bit more crazy for Type A individuals, as it’s really easy to maximize all those repetitive moments with information.
The fear of missing out on content + the desire to maximize productivity can lead to an overload of informational input but restricts the actual ideation phase (the shower environment).
What’s even worse, information becomes less valuable: because it is not used immediately or mixed together with the other concepts, it gets discarded. (reading a lot of non-fictional books one after the other without a gestation phase makes the overall impact of all the books very small)
Solution? Put a valve on information. Restrict informational input while keeping a balance between input vs output. Even better, if those two are balanced, our selection process for information will be even more clear as we will know better “when we see it” instead of mindlessly throwing information at out brain and see what sticks. A second step involves clearly separating the two phases. I will try as much as I can to clearly carve that time to zone out.
The problem that I have yet to solve is that some randomness of input needs to happen, as it’s very hard to predict what will stick and you want to have those cross-disciplinary concepts come across. Maybe this is where a unrelated hobby helps?