Return Your iPad and Re-Gain Your Boredom

This quote from Peter Bregman really struck a chord with me...

"The brilliance of the iPad is that it’s the anytime-anywhere computer. On the subway. In the hall waiting for the elevator. In a car on the way to the airport. Any free moment becomes a potential iPad moment.

The iPhone can do roughly the same thing, but not exactly. Who wants to watch a movie in bed on an iPhone?

So why is this a problem? It sounds like I was super-productive. Every extra minute, I was either producing or consuming.

But something — more than just sleep, though that’s critical too — is lost in the busyness. Something too valuable to lose.


Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that’s where creativity arises.

My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I am running but not listening to my iPod. When I am sitting, doing nothing, waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling to sleep. These “wasted” moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital.

They are the moments in which we, often unconsciously, organize our minds, make sense of our lives, and connect the dots. They’re the moments in which we talk to ourselves. And listen.

To lose those moments, to replace them with tasks and efficiency, is a mistake. What’s worse is that we don’t just lose them. We actively throw them away."

Now, I don't have an iPad and really have no plan to get one, but I often feel that I'm constantly being bombarded with information, media and stimuli.  Sometimes I even think about how there is far more knowledge and media in the world than I could ever possibly consume in my lifetime, and that's a sad feeling.

Reading and posting Tweets, crafting new blog posts, reviewing status updates on Facebook, navigating the streets of New York which are filled with advertising, reading whatever novel I'm interested in at the moment, all while listening to a podcast about Stuff You Should Know and checking in to every cafe and store I enter... it's exhausting.

Seems to me that it's increasingly difficult to find a peaceful moment among all of the social media and information I have to keep up with. I remember my childhood consisting mainly of bored moments which were sporadically interrupted by exciting ones. Today, it tends to be the opposite.  I'm always receiving stimuli and searching for the moment of boredom.  Granted that could be an aspect of growing up and getting a career, or a product of my childhood being lived out in rural Pennsylvania.  In any case, it's something I notice.

It's even gotten to the point where I choose the lesser of two evils.  When I wish for a moment of rest, I choose a less-intense stimuli.  May sound strange, but a few hours of Red Dead Redemption on Xbox is highly relaxing for me.

I don't think my creativity has been stifled from my constant barrage of consumption, though. I still find moments where an idea will spark in my head just as I'm reviewing the latest stock updates or baseball scores. I do, however, find it harder to have a solid block of time that is purely dedicated to brainstorming and being creative.

Now, it should be said that while a great portion of my life is hectic and draining as I've described, I do have a wonderful, relaxing evening to share with my fiancee every night.  I make a point to close my computer, put down my iPhone and simply experience life with her. It's a much needed and much enjoyed rest and recharge for me.

Read another take on the iPad and boredom over at Design Soujourn.

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