Last week, a band I really liked was in town. Since I’ve been trying to become more independent, I decided to go to the concert by myself. After I went in, however, I realized that I had left my phone in my car. I didn’t want to miss the opening band so I decided to go in and planned on leaving if they hadn’t started yet. They hadn’t, so I decided to head back. The only problem was that there was a big sign that read, “NO RE-ENTRY.” I was stuck for the next three hours, by myself, without my phone.
While my phone does a lot of things for me, one of the things that I’ve used it for more and more is to relieve boredom. I’ve developed a habit that whenever I’m bored, I pull out my phone, even if I don’t have anything in mind to look at. If I sense that I am bored or that I will be bored in the near future, I play it safe and take my phone with me. So going to this concert without my phone started to cause a little anxiety.
For the first 15 minutes, I was pretty bored. I found a seat and was people watching, but I really had nothing to do. After that 15 minutes, though, something started to…happen…in my brain. The longer I was bored, the more and more my mind began to work. I started writing articles in my head. I started solving problems from work. Without consciously choosing to, I started to come up with all kinds of ideas and solutions to various minor things that annoy me in life.
Boredom isn’t bad or something to avoid.
Boredom is a necessary entrance into the stadium of creativity.
I haven’t mastered this. Like I said before, I forgot my phone by accident. I also don’t think my phone is evil or anything – it serves some really helpful purposes – connecting with people, getting directions, and more. During the concert, I had to keep asking people what time it was! Nevertheless, I think my relationship does need to change.
Here’s some thoughts on what this might mean for us practically:
- When creating, don’t keep your phone within sight. Put it in a drawer, leave it in another room, or turn it off. Even though you’re not using it, just seeing it on your desk distracts your brain – it’s science!
- When you’re having a hard time creating, allow yourself to get bored. Don’t escape it. It’s uncomfortable at first. Push through it!
- Think about your relationship with your phone. Do you master it or does it master you?
- Look for excuses not to have your phone around. If you’re at dinner with friends, don’t have your phone out. Leave it in your pocket or your purse. Our phones can get in the way of our relationships.
- Practice being present. I could have a whole post on stillness and meditation, but this is one of the best ways to practice being in the current moment. Here’s a great article on the subject.
- Don’t use your phone to escape uncomfortable situations. I was at a concert alone. I was uncomfortable just standing around. Instead of escaping the discomfort, I made a choice to embrace it.
This week, I challenge you to find one situation where you can avoid the temptation to pull out your phone. If you feel boredom coming on, embrace it for what it truly is – an opening to creativity and better relationships.