Deep down, we all know we’re spending too much time on our phones. It seems we can’t carry out the simplest tasks without constantly checking them. Just take a look next time you’re waiting in line for coffee. We’ll bet no one has the audacity to just stand there. But that’s exactly what Manoush Zomorodi asked listeners to do in the “Bored and Brilliant: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Spacing Out” challenge. New Tech City has taken it upon itself to make the case for boredom and created a podcast and a series of six daily challenges to help you detach from your phone and embrace mindful living.
When New Tech City interviewed people about their relationships with their phones, they discovered that we love our smartphones because we are “connected all the time, organized beyond measure and never ever without entertainment.” But people also admitted that the constant phone use made them feel dependent, exhausted and addicted.
But did you know that being bored is actually good for your brain? New Tech City talked to boredom researcher (that’s a thing??) Sandi Mann and he reported that daydreaming and being bored can lead to more reflective and creative thoughts. “You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy lazy junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time,” Mann said. Guess that means there are quite a few apps we should be deleting…
In another interview with Jonny Smallwood, a professor of cognitive neuroscience, we learn that inspiration, especially creative inspiration, seems to strike when we’re not really focusing on anything, but letting our mind wander. And no, Instagram doesn’t count as letting your mind wander. “What smartphones allow us to do is get rid of boredom in a very direct way because we can play games, phone people, we can check the Internet,” Smallwood says. “It takes away the boredom, but it also denies us the chance to see and learn about where we truly are in terms of our goals.”
After you sign up for the Bored and Brilliant podcasts, you’ll need to download a time-keeping app that lets you see how much time you’re actually spending on your phone (yikes!). Once you figure out your baseline, you’ll get a daily challenge podcast emailed to you over the course of six mornings. These challenges vary from the simple step of putting your phone in your pocket as you run an errand to a big creative project at the end.
Technology is necessary to modern life — we understand that — but when it starts coming between real relationships and our creative time, maybe it is time to make a change, even if that change is as simple as keeping your phone in your pocket while you’re waiting for coffee.
Are you going to try the “Bored and Brilliant” challenge? We’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below!