Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi

Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self

Has your smartphone become your BFF? Do you feel bored when you're not checking Facebook or Instagram? Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self explains the connection between boredom and original thinking, and explores how we can harness boredom's hidden benefits to become our most productive selves.In 2015, WNYC Studio's 'Not...

Title:Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self
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Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self Reviews

  • Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition

    When very bored, your brain apparently goes into a "default mode" - that is when creativity and productivity is at it's best. The premise of this statement is that if you are not otherwise distracted, you can think more clearly (obviously) however, according to the study by Manoush Zomorodi, people nowadays are NEVER not distracted, primarily by their cell phones and other devices.

    In fact, she states that the only businesses that refer to their customers as "users" are technolgy /software develo

    When very bored, your brain apparently goes into a "default mode" - that is when creativity and productivity is at it's best. The premise of this statement is that if you are not otherwise distracted, you can think more clearly (obviously) however, according to the study by Manoush Zomorodi, people nowadays are NEVER not distracted, primarily by their cell phones and other devices.

    In fact, she states that the only businesses that refer to their customers as "users" are technolgy /software developers and drug dealers!

    Zomorodi proves that it is good to be bored once in a while by her research and proposes a 7 Day Challenge to wean people off their electronic devices:

    The Bored and Brilliant Seven-Step Program

    CHALLENGE ONE: Observe Yourself First you’ll track your digital habits—and most likely be shocked by what you discover.

    CHALLENGE TWO: Keep Your Devices Out of Reach While in Motion Keep your phone out of sight while you’re in transit—so no walking and texting!

    CHALLENGE THREE: Photo-Free Day No pics of food, kitten, kids—nada.

    CHALLENGE FOUR: Delete That App Take the one app you can’t live without and trash it. (Don’t worry, you’ll live.)

    CHALLENGE FIVE: Take a Fakecation You’ll be in the office but out of touch.

    CHALLENGE SIX: Observe Something Else Reclaim the art of noticing.

    CHALLENGE SEVEN: The Bored and Brilliant Challenge In a culmination of all the exercises, you’ll use your new powers of boredom to make sense of your life and set goals.

    I found the interviews with software developers to be interesting and informative.

    It was also fun to read the responses from her volunteers who went through the 7 step challenge.

    I thought I used my phone a lot when not neccessary and was somewhat addicted to social media, so I downloaded the monitoring software and found I did not pick up my phone nearly as much as the people who participated in the survey and it was relatively easy for me to participate in all of the challenges, especially deleting apps - it was a kind of silly relief to delete HBO and Hulu and I found I absolutely did not miss out on anything by not using Facebook for up to 40 days at a time!

    (but I did not delete FB after all, argh)

    The "fakecation" from work emails is something that some of our departments do at crunch time anyway, so that was not a problem either.

    I thought the book was a little too long and have a feeling that my millenial aged son would have a harder time with these challenges than I did, but it would be a good eye-opener for anyone who uses electronic devices to look into this.

    PS. I love Manoush Zomorodi's "Note To Self" broadcasts on NPR

  • Janelle

    Waiting in line to check out? Fire up Candy Crush.

    On your commute? Get caught up on blogs or YouTube vids.

    One laaaast round of checks on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter before the theater darkens for the movie previews. (And then another check when the lights come up to catch what you missed.)

    We have the option to never, ever be bored. There’s always something, somewhere willing to keep

    Waiting in line to check out? Fire up Candy Crush.

    On your commute? Get caught up on blogs or YouTube vids.

    One laaaast round of checks on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter before the theater darkens for the movie previews. (And then another check when the lights come up to catch what you missed.)

    We have the option to never, ever be bored. There’s always something, somewhere willing to keep us occupied, and it's rarely farther than a pocket. According to Manoush Zomorodi, host of NPR’s

    program, that’s a problem.

    In 2015,

    launched a week-long project to promote

    . Through a series of challenges, Bored and Brilliant participants were encouraged to think through how, when, and why they engage with technology. This book emerged from that project, giving Zomorodi a chance not only to talk about the outcomes of the project itself, but also some of the rationale behind each component challenge. She interviews scientists and laypersons along the way.

    But why boredom? Isn’t it *good* that we can use these otherwise unproductive three minutes at Starbucks to touch base with a friend on Facebook? What else would we possibly do with that time?

    Zomorodi argues that the cumulative effect of all these check-ins cost us creativity and introspection. The brain desperately needs to these unoccupied moments to tie disparate parts of our lived experience together in new and creative ways. The wandering mind moves backward and forward, updating your narrative of self and the world around you. Every time you fire up Candy Crush, you’re unconsciously choosing not to let your mind wander.

    Zomorodi works hard to present the scientific evidence for this view and to keep it morally neutral--she frequently mentions her own addiction to an online game as evidence that she suffers along with the rest of us--but it’s not hard to see that some readers are going to be defensive about this notion.

    The portion of the book that spoke to me loudest was a passage in which Zomorodi interviews a couple of college professors who bemoan how their students prefer to communicate via text rather than office hours. A student points out that a text or email allows her to choose her words in advance, so as not to say the wrong thing. One of the professors points out that makes her own job harder. If a student asks a precise question over text/email, the professor can only answer the question posed. A student who stumbles through an idea verbally, who makes mistakes and corrects herself as she goes along, who leaves openings where the professor might probe further or reframe portions of the question… this is how academic inquiry and discovery happen best. Yes, it’s messier, but it’s also more likely to engage the student.

    In describing the premise of the book to a co-worker, she pointed out that distraction has always been with us. Forty years ago, the commuter train car might have been full of folks reading a paper rather than their cell phones. She’s right: screens are a new iteration of an old habit. There was no magical past in which strangers were happy and willing to engage with one another on the morning commute that has now been taken from us by smartphones.

    However, Zomorodi isn’t anti-technology. She hasn’t chucked her iPhone into the East River, and she’s not inciting us to rise up in revolution against our electronic masters. Instead, she’s arguing that a healthier relationship with our phones will open up more space in our lives for creative thinking.

    You can check out

    .

    I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley.

    For further reading about the merits of distraction-free work, I recommend Cal Newport’s

    .

    If you’re a parent, you might be interested in

    .

  • Jess Macallan

    I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I was interested in the premise of this book--the idea that by unplugging and purposefully allowing ourselves to be bored, we could benefit creatively and in other ways. I enjoyed the information--both studies and interviews with experts--that outlined our need for and addiction to technology, specifically our smartphones. I did the challenges outlined in the book, which sound surprisingly easy but was harder to exe

    I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I was interested in the premise of this book--the idea that by unplugging and purposefully allowing ourselves to be bored, we could benefit creatively and in other ways. I enjoyed the information--both studies and interviews with experts--that outlined our need for and addiction to technology, specifically our smartphones. I did the challenges outlined in the book, which sound surprisingly easy but was harder to execute. I'm not as addicted to certain features of my phone, so it wasn't hard to delete overused apps and refrain from taking pictures for a day. It was more difficult to acknowledge how many times I mindlessly check my phone in a day. Let's just say it's a lot of wasted time, and I don't have a good reason for it.

    This book offers a lot of food for thought, and anyone who uses a smartphone should read it, if for no other reason than to gain a little perspective about putting the phone or tablet down more often and reconnecting with what really matters.

  • Jane

    I am very interested in the topic of phone use and overuse. I am not anti-technology (and neither is the author of this book), but I do find the overuse of phones by much of American society alarming. Zomorodi was definitely preaching to the choir with me as a reader.

    Zomorodi includes research to back up the idea that we are more creative when we allow ourselves to be “bored” and allow our minds to wander. I do not carry my smartphone around in my hand and it is seldom in view when I am out with

    I am very interested in the topic of phone use and overuse. I am not anti-technology (and neither is the author of this book), but I do find the overuse of phones by much of American society alarming. Zomorodi was definitely preaching to the choir with me as a reader.

    Zomorodi includes research to back up the idea that we are more creative when we allow ourselves to be “bored” and allow our minds to wander. I do not carry my smartphone around in my hand and it is seldom in view when I am out with others, so I am actually not her primary audience. Still, even I found some of her seven challenges (to change your relationship with your phone and increase your productivity and creativity) of interest. Most of them are not a challenge for me (keep your device out of reach while in motion – already do that; have a photo free day – most of my days are photo free, etc.). But I certainly waste time on the internet on my laptop, if not my smartphone.

    I found myself wanting to quote long passages of the book because they match my own experiences so well. For example,

    “In a study from 2014 called the iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interaction in the Presence of Mobile Devices, researchers at Virginia Tech found that the mere presence of a mobile device, even just lying there, seemingly benign on the kitchen counter, can lower the empathy exchanged between two friends.” (p. 56)

    and

    “This isn’t just a productivity or focus issue. [Gloria] Mark’s lab has found that the more people switch their attention, the higher their stress level. That is especially concerning, she says, because the modern workplace feeds on interruptions.” (p. 89)

    The text was engaging and the research cited compelling. If you would like to decrease the amount of time you waste on your smartphone (or laptop), you might find this short and easy to read book of interest.

    I read an advance reader copy of Bored But Brilliant. It will be published in early September.

  • Kelly

    This gave me so much food for thought about why I have the relationship I have with my technology and the ways I can consider being more conscious of that. This isn't anti-tech, and Manoush does a great job of giving insight into both sides of the coin -- she, for example, found herself addicted to Two Dots and wondered why, so she explored why it was a problem for her, as well as interviewed one of the creators of the game and how the "addictive" mentality could be mined to suck people into suc

    This gave me so much food for thought about why I have the relationship I have with my technology and the ways I can consider being more conscious of that. This isn't anti-tech, and Manoush does a great job of giving insight into both sides of the coin -- she, for example, found herself addicted to Two Dots and wondered why, so she explored why it was a problem for her, as well as interviewed one of the creators of the game and how the "addictive" mentality could be mined to suck people into such a game. There are mini challenges throughout, meant to encourage finding ways to "get bored."

    The audiobook is read by the author, and it's no surprise she's great. It's fabulous to listen to a self-help/creative/business-y book written by and read by a woman of color. It's not some Silicon Valley, young white guy who has all of the answers. It's much more real and, for me, applicable.

    I also just agree with the premise of needing quiet, boring time in order to be our best, most creative selves. And oh, how I loathe spending time with people who never get off their damn phones. Why am I with you if your face is glued to a screen?

    But then again, I don't feel the compulsion to do that, and it's worthwhile to read this one and consider why it is a. other people do and b. why I react how I do.

  • Jennifer

    Manoush Zomorodi presents some insights into the ways modern life short-circuits creativity, as well as concrete steps to take to enhance creative energy by allowing boredom into our lives. I borrowed this one from the library, but I think I'll want my own copy eventually so I can try out her week of exercises for disconnecting and getting used to boredom.

  • Lynn

    I did not like this book. The premise is that we can be more creative if we stop turning to social media when we are bored. The book was simplistic, poorly researched, and included no reference section, Even worse, the author, a "podcaster", reported her online project as if it was an experiment which it clearly is not. I also found the title to be a misnomer. The title implies that if you are bored you can be creative and brilliant. In fact, what the author means is that if you are bored, you c

    I did not like this book. The premise is that we can be more creative if we stop turning to social media when we are bored. The book was simplistic, poorly researched, and included no reference section, Even worse, the author, a "podcaster", reported her online project as if it was an experiment which it clearly is not. I also found the title to be a misnomer. The title implies that if you are bored you can be creative and brilliant. In fact, what the author means is that if you are bored, you can choose not to turn to social media, and instead think creatively, These two things are not the same. There are many brilliant academics who write on these topics much more succinctly, I found Manoush Zomorodi's musings watered down and sometimes inaccurate.

    Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy.

  • Shan

    This is a simple, friendly book whose premise is that your life can be better if you give yourself a chance to get bored and do some daydreaming. In other words, put your phone away. It offers a week-long series of challenges, one per day, beginning with monitoring your baseline behavior and ending with a capstone exercise in which you use your newfound powers to make sense of your life and set goals.

    I recently started listening to the author's

    podcast, which discusses a lot of the

    This is a simple, friendly book whose premise is that your life can be better if you give yourself a chance to get bored and do some daydreaming. In other words, put your phone away. It offers a week-long series of challenges, one per day, beginning with monitoring your baseline behavior and ending with a capstone exercise in which you use your newfound powers to make sense of your life and set goals.

    I recently started listening to the author's

    podcast, which discusses a lot of the ideas in this book, but the book pulls it all together, along with the evidence underlying each aspect of the program, and comments from podcast listeners who did the challenges in 2015.

    I haven't done the challenges yet but just listening to the audiobook has made me more aware of when I'm tempted to pull out the phone to counter the agony of waiting thirty seconds for the light to turn green or for my dining companion to come back from the restroom. It's also made me think about all the other ways I've found to fill my attention so I never have to just be in my own head: I always have a book with me, I listen to NPR and podcasts while driving or walking the dogs, I watch movies while doing chores. Not to mention the puzzles and games I do while watching tv, just in case there might be a spare chunk of unoccupied brain.

    The author recommends reading the whole book first, then going back and doing the challenges. Tip: if you're listening to the audiobook, make sure to bookmark the challenges as you go along. I didn't; I was painting a room while listening to it, meaning I'm pretty much going to have to listen to the whole thing again to find them. It's okay. It will do me good.

    Oh, and there's some surprising information here, too. Like, the link between meditation and creativity. Which isn't what I thought it was.

  • Rosemary Rey

    I've been interested in figuring out how to focus and minimize the distractions that block me from my writing. I started out reading another book about deep focus and the ways to work without distraction. Both this book, Bored and Brilliant, and the other had one thing in common, technology. The cause of our problems is the enhanced technology we have access to. I didn't have a problem writing a paper in 1992 before the internet was introduced to me. I didn't have a problem studying for the Bar

    I've been interested in figuring out how to focus and minimize the distractions that block me from my writing. I started out reading another book about deep focus and the ways to work without distraction. Both this book, Bored and Brilliant, and the other had one thing in common, technology. The cause of our problems is the enhanced technology we have access to. I didn't have a problem writing a paper in 1992 before the internet was introduced to me. I didn't have a problem studying for the Bar exam before smartphones. But when it comes to writing my fiction or paying bills, I'd rather scroll through Instagram, post pics, and Twitter-review TV shows. There were some good tips in this book on disconnecting and allowing your mind to be still to not be "on" and working--or worse, addicted to games, etc. For people who like to read non-fiction self help books, I recommend this book. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.

  • Dannii Elle

    I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't this. I can appreciate how this book would be invaluable to some readers but don't believe I was exactly the right audience. I believed this would deliver advice on creativity and the cultivation of it in life. Instead this was a guide on how to rely less on the distraction of your smart phone. Whilst I can see the benefit of this book I found this not to be an issue I had as I already restrict my social media and smart phone usage, throughout the

    I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't this. I can appreciate how this book would be invaluable to some readers but don't believe I was exactly the right audience. I believed this would deliver advice on creativity and the cultivation of it in life. Instead this was a guide on how to rely less on the distraction of your smart phone. Whilst I can see the benefit of this book I found this not to be an issue I had as I already restrict my social media and smart phone usage, throughout the course of the day. I found nothing of interest in this book for me and, whilst well written, this was, sadly, not for me.

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Manoush Zomorodi, and the publisher, Macmillan, for this opportunity.

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