Bore Yourself Brilliant

How often do we allow ourselves to feel completely and utterly bored? In this era of information overload — available quite literally at our fingertips — boredom might be the next great professional luxury.

Picture this: while washing your hair, a moment of creative genius strikes. Did that brisk scalp massage spark your brain’s synapses into action in the shower? More likely, as NPR’s All Things Considered reports, that light bulb moment was thanks to a good helping of boredom. A study by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire explored the power of boredom and found that when participants were asked to read the phone book, they later demonstrated greater creativity during tasks. While that yellow-paged monstrosity of print may be a remnant of a bygone era, we can still spark brilliant thinking for ourselves and our cohorts. Here are suggestions to get the creative wheels turning:

Go on a digital diet
Unplug to recharge your inner marketing genius. Start by designating digital-free activities. Rather than skimming your smart phone on the train to work, take note of the people around you. Spot the products they use, wear and read — trends are everywhere. And consider silencing the mental clutter.

Since listening to Mozart isn’t likely to benefit your IQ score or spark creative ingenuity, shush the roar of background music and TV to soak in the silence. Marketing is founded on insight. Look up, be a witness to the people and places around you and allow yourself a taste of good old-fashioned boredom.

Don’t put creative thinking on a timeline
Oh, the pressure! Brilliant ideas aren’t confined to or particularly inspired by organized meetings and “brainstorms.” In fact, the aforementioned University of Central Lancashire study suggests that boredom during passive activities such as attending a painfully slow presentation or reading a tedious blog post (unlike this one) increases the daydreaming effect, leading to greater creativity thereafter. To harness those off-hours musings, create a shared “Lightbulb Moment” e-file or dedicated company email address for on-a-whim thought sharing. Make it a place for colleagues to jot down incomplete ideas as they spark, or build upon ideas already in the bank.

Nuggets of marketing genius are just waiting to be uncovered. So please, chill out.


By Trish Nugent, Senior Vice President, PR