In this episode:
When was the last time you said, “I’m bored”? Are your brain and schedule so full that you have no space to dream, solve, innovate, or create? In this solo episode, learn how bringing back boredom can be a good thing.
(Article contains affiliate links. This means that when you click a link and make a purchase, I might receive a small commission from that purchase.)
Discussion Highlights from How to Cultivate the Art of Boredom
- We live in a noisy world.… It isn't just what we hear.…It's also the schedule demands that scream at us. It's the internal dialogue that won't shut off because of what's coming at us. I should be working I should you know, all those kinds of things. It's the flood of information from news and from posts we read in from articles in emails and texts and podcasts, yes, even those, and the messages that we get. It's the overwhelm of any kind of input to our senses or our brains.
- Boredom doesn’t mean sitting around staring at blank walls.
- Three kinds of boredom:
- Active – doing a mindless task with sound turned off
- Waiting – not going to social media to pass the time
- Intentional – setting up barriers to easy access to noise
- Turn off the podcasts, music, and TV sometimes, and let your thoughts wander.
Quotes to Remember from Michelle Rayburn
- Cultivate some boredom in your everyday life because you might be surprised by what can happen.
- What if we embrace the value of what comes out of boredom?
- Creativity is what helps us to repurpose challenges into something that has new purpose.
Episode Sponsor: God’s Grin Gal
Are you still sorting out your new year goals? Or maybe you had good intentions but have already gotten off track? Kathy Carlton Willis has two new books ready to equip you with your next steps. If you set goals for weight loss or health this is for you. Or maybe you set a self-care or spiritual growth goal but need extra direction and ideas. Kathy's books are part self-help, part Bible study and always heartwarming. Take a look at the Grin Gal's Guide to Wellbeing: Being Well in Body, Soul & Spirit. Her ancillary product is equally valuable. The Grin Gal's Planner for Wellbeing: a 90-day Habit Tracker for Being Well in Body, Soul & Spirit. Kathy is also offering virtual wellbeing groups to provide extra help and support. To learn more, go to her website at KathyCarltonWillis.com. She invites you to contact her for more details.
"I'm bored." When was the last time you said that? Are your brain and schedule so full that you have no space to dream, solve, innovate, or create? In this solo episode, I'll talk about how bringing back boredom can be a good thing. I'll give you a couple of tips for different ways that we can experience boredom, and how we can turn off the noise. And then I'll also give you some examples of how that has worked for me in life, when I've come up with even writing a book or a song or anything like that. So if you're looking for how to be bored, this is the episode for you. And no the episode itself is not intended to be boring. But I do want you to cultivate some boredom in your everyday life. Because you might be surprised by what can happen when you do that. Let's get over that fear of being bored and really embrace it for what it's worth in our lives.
You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration and helpful resources. Grow your faith, improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host, Michelle Rayburn.
I want to speak to our schedules and some of the things that happen in life that really can overwhelm us. I haven't had much whitespace on my schedule in 2022. I know we're only a couple of weeks in, so there's still hope for the rest of the year. But I'm really feeling it. Do you feel it too? Have you thought about white space and what it is? To me, whitespace is unstructured time. And I'm really feeling the lack of that in my life right now. And I know it's gonna come back. And I know that I'm in a season, I won't go into all of it here. But some things within my family have led to a little bit of overwhelm at the beginning of the year. And I know it's not permanent. But I can still be intentional in the midst of that. In fact, I've noticed that I often go to mindless activities as my means of coping. And so I can pass a lot of time just scrolling on my phone, because my brain is too overwhelmed to engage. But then I'm actually overwhelming it more, because I'm just filling it up with empty junk, kind of like junk food for the mind. Do you remember driving your mother crazy when you were younger? When you'd go and say "I'm bored." My mom always had a solution. She had some kind of chore she could offer us when we were bored. But I've heard that from my own kids as well, "I'm bored."
There are days now where I think to myself what I wouldn't give to feel bored again. One of the things I like to cover in this podcast is topics that are related to creativity. And I think this ties in very much, because I believe that creativity is what helps us to repurpose challenges into something that has new purpose. And if we don't have room for creativity, we don't have room to do that problem solving and really live the repurpose life. So that's what this is all about. Now, there was this time when I was kind of bored. And I was listening to an audio book, and I'm going to talk about why sometimes that's not always the best idea. But I was painting I was working on some window trim. And I was just painting and I was listening to an audiobook. It happened to be Jordan Rayner's Redeeming Your Time. I'll have a link in the show notes to that book if you'd like to also get that. But he mentioned the value of boredom, and he gives examples of TV shows and books that came about because the author was bored and started daydreaming. The Chronicles of Narnia was an example that he gave. I got thinking about that and how he talked about how we live in a noisy world. And I started to brainstorm the ways that noise comes into our lives. It isn't just what we hear. And he wasn't talking about just what we hear either when he talked about noise. It's also the schedule demands that scream at us. It's the internal dialogue that won't shut off because of what's coming at us. I should be working I should you know, all those kinds of things. It's the flood of information from news and from posts we read in from articles in emails and texts and podcasts, yes, even those, and the messages that we get. It's the overwhelm of any kind of input to our senses or our brains. So that could also be audible stuff, but it could be visual, it could be any kind of sensory overload.
So let's come back to the value of boredom. Jordan Raynor defines boredom as a lack of noise. So it's the lack of that flood of sensory input into our brains. Imagine if you turned it all off for a bit. What stood out for me in writing Book is the idea that we need to cultivate boredom. And this isn't the sitting around, like, I just need to sit around and stare at the walls. I'm going to get into this in a minute here, because it really isn't that doesn't it seem as if we live life to eliminate all chance of boredom on purpose. It's almost like we're afraid of it. So much so that we fear running out of things to do, and we feel every moment. And we think that if we have something that we're not multitasking yet, that we're not productive, there are a lot of lies, I've told myself in that realm as well. I can't say that I cultivate boredom on purpose. And yet, I can't remember the last time I was bored. So I've realized it's time for me to work on cultivating that boredom, or to look for moments when I can be more intentionally bored. Now I've seen some lists online, of things like picking seeds off a strawberry forget that we're not going to look for stupid things to do. If you're riding in the car with the kids. I'm sorry, I just used that word. I won't use it again in this episode. Things that are mindless and make no sense. We're not looking for senseless things to do. But I can't remember the last time I didn't grab a stack of magazines from the mail to browse while I was watching TV or when I didn't have my computer or my phone opened during my favorite show, even if it wasn't to work, but just to scroll on social media. I'm the multitasking queen here. After a break from our sponsor, I want to delve into three ways to cultivate the art of being bored to open that whitespace for creativity.
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor, God's Grin Gal.
Are you still sorting out your new year goals? Or maybe you had good intentions but have already gotten off track? Kathy Carlton Willis has two new books ready to equip you with your next steps. If you set goals for weight loss or health this is for you. Or maybe you set a self care or spiritual growth goal but need extra direction and ideas. Kathy's books are part self help, part Bible study and always heartwarming. Take a look at the Grin Gal's Guide to Wellbeing: Being Well in Body, Soul & Spirit. Her ancillary product is equally valuable. The Grin Gal's Planner for Wellbeing: a 90-day Habit Tracker for Being Well in Body, Soul & Spirit. Kathy is also offering virtual wellbeing groups to provide extra help and support. To learn more, go to her website at KathyCarltonWillis.com. That's KathyCarltonWillis.com, she invites you to contact her for more details.
Let's get practical here. I've come up with three kinds of boredom that we often try to avoid. After I list those and I talk a little here, I'll give you some examples of how boredom has worked for me in the past. These do not involve as I said, sitting around and staring at the walls at all. It is not sitting in silence necessarily. It's also not doing nothing. Okay, so some of them might. But let's look for some examples here of how boredom comes into play in our everyday lives if we let it. Okay, first active boredom. being bored doesn't have to mean sitting around with nothing to do, it can mean turning off the noise to make room for our thoughts. I'm going to give you some examples here of activities that might be boring, but could also be thought provoking if we don't have some other stimulation at the same time. These are the kinds of activities where you might be tempted to turn on a podcast or an audio book or listen to music, or maybe have a TV going in the background or something like that. It's when you'd have the radio blaring and you'd be singing along. It's the kind of time where you might call a friend to use that time productively so that you're multitasking. It might be anything that you're doing where you would have an activity combined with some sort of mental or auditory stimulation. So let's think about what might happen when you do them bored, because that's when you remove that input. Here's an example mowing the lawn. You go back and forth in rows or circles alone with your thoughts. I used to talk to myself a lot in the pre headphones days when I would mow the lawn as a kid on the riding lawnmower and just go back and forth or doing the push mower and I didn't have anything playing in some headphones. It was just me back and forth and really think a lot while I did that, we can still do that. You don't have to have music playing in headphones, or have anything coming in when you're doing something like mowing the lawn, it could be washing the dishes, or folding laundry, walking outside or walking on the treadmill, or something I like to do, I like to go to the track at the local high school and walk laps, I feel like it's a little safer than walking on the street just because I don't have to listen for cars quite as closely. But I often have a podcast going. And when I'm doing this bored, it would mean I go for a walk and just listen to the birds; I wouldn't have headphones on.
So those are examples of active boredom, where it's something we would already be doing. But it's a boring task by itself. And we try to fill that space by listening to something or by having conversations. And when we do them bored, we turn that off. Now here's another one. The second type is waiting boredom. This is the kind of time we need to be tempted to pull out your phone to scroll mindlessly, because you're sitting in stuck for a while and you aren't doing another activity, it might be a time when you'd be putting some sort of media into your mind. Think of sitting in a waiting room, you're waiting for someone to call on you pull out your phone right away. It could be riding in the car, when someone else is driving, or it could be you commuting, of course, you're not going to have your phone out scrolling, I hope when you're commuting, but you might be listening to something and using your phone that way. It might be when you're sitting on an airplane for a couple of hours, and you just have nothing to do there. And you're waiting for that plane to land and then you do your next thing. It could be waiting in line at the store for just a few minutes or on hold on the phone. It could be when you're in a Zoom meeting, and you don't have your video turned on, and you're trying to do something else. While the Zoom meeting is happening.
Whatever it is, it's a waiting time when you're not really engaged in something else. The last one is intentional boredom. This one can be more challenging, because this involves removing the tools we go to. And it involves making it more difficult to occupy every space with noise. So some of the things that this involves include making it more difficult to scroll social media, by removing the apps from your phone, turning off the TV or having fewer TVs around you, we used to have more of them in our home, so that I could put the news on and I go from the kitchen, which is open to the living room, to the office to the bedroom. And I'd have TV on. And we got rid of all of those so that there's one in a central area. And I don't really watch as much news just for noise anymore in the background, it could be removing physical clutter from your space because looking at it is overwhelming to your brain. So that means the unread mail stack and the to-be-read pile that's sitting in my office. Or it could be just the overwhelm of decoration.
So whatever physical clutter is for you, it's going to be something you define. It could be uncluttering your calendar by saying no, or quitting some things uncluttering your inbox in your email, it could be unsubscribing to some physical magazines or digital ones, because you never have time to get around to reading them anyway. Perhaps you equate boredom with being unproductive. And so you think that if you're doing something, it means your time is more valuable. I want to encourage you to break that myth. Because we can be productive by just letting our thoughts unwind. And so boredom does not mean being unproductive.
What if we embrace the value of what comes out of boredom? I once turned off the radio on a long drive home from an event, and that's unusual for me because I usually have radio or an audio book or something going on, I started humming a little bit and thinking. And before long, this idea for a song came to mind. And I started to write lyrics in my head, and I was coming up with a melody. I had to pull over multiple rest areas along the route to put my ideas in a notebook. I had no smartphone at that time. So I wasn't able to just dictate a note. I would pull over, take a restroom break, jot down all the lyrics that came to me during that time, then I'd get on the road again for another hour. Again, alone in silence in the car, talking to myself singing, doing things like that and then pulling over and taking some more notes.
I had another one come to me like that when I was cleaning the basement, and I had to go upstairs and sit at the piano. I didn't feel too sad about quitting my cleaning. And I had to get that song down because this idea came to me when I was just vacuuming and dusting and picking up some things. Writers have some of their best ideas in the shower because it's a boring place. A power walk might bring a solution to a problem that you've spent all afternoon on. Your idea for a business might come together while you're weeding the garden So all of these are spaces in life that might be part of every day. But instead of stacking activities on top of one another, we unlayer them so that we're doing one thing that allows us to have some time in our mind.
Now, I have a challenge for you. This podcast is about over. And an after the music fades at the end, I want you to use the next 15 minutes to be bored. If you're out walking and listening to this right now, I want you to not put the next podcast on the playlist just yet. If you're in the car, leave the radio off. Whatever you were doing when you started listening to this, it may be you're multitasking, I want you to just turn off this podcast and let your thoughts wander for those 15 minutes.
After that time, jot a note about any thoughts that come to mind that you'd like to come back to again later. If you're a journaler, this is a good place to take some notes like that. I want you to begin to look for ways to embrace boredom in your everyday life. And if you experience a breakthrough of creativity, would you send me a message on Instagram? Just look for Michelle Rayburn on Instagram. I would love to hear how it goes. And I can't wait to hear what productive ideas come to you out of the boredom that you intentionally cultivate in your life. So whether it's active boredom, whether it's waiting boredom, or whether it's intentional boredom, I encourage you to find that space and to let your brain have a little bit of a break from the noise that's all around you.
I'm looking forward to seeing you again next week when I have a guest interview. Be sure to go to the show notes at Michellerayburn.com/125. That's where you'll find the links we talked about today. So we don't have very many links for you today. But you'll also find a full transcript of this episode. If you want to come back and see those tips that I gave you. They're all going to be there. So thanks again for listening, and I'll see you next week.
You've been listening to Life Repurposed with Michelle Rayburn. Check out tips, resources and inspiration at Michellerayburn.com to get the show notes for this episode. Each week I share links to everything mentioned in the episode graphics you can share and guest quotes. I also invite you to join the Life Repurposed Facebook community for weekly conversation with others on the journey of discovering the repurposed life. Before you go. Which friend needs to hear this episode? Share a link with a note to invite them to listen and thank you for listening too!
Support the Show
(An easy way to make a small contribution to the show)
(Please note: many books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book.)
Content copyright MichelleRayburn.com
This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my books via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.