You're never bored, and that's a problem

Turning off the smartphone may help reclaim some creative time

The constant stimulation of a smartphone may be sapping you of your most creative moments—which come when you are bored, NPR reports.

A recent study by the research group Flurry found the average consumer spends nearly three hours on her smartphone each day. It may sound like a lot, but those three hours do not happen all at once. They come in a few minutes here and there, when we might otherwise have mental downtime, says Manoush Zomorodi, host of the New York-based podcast New Tech City.

The smartphones prevent anyone from ever having to be bored—but, Zomorodi argues, moments of "spacing out" can be some of our most valuable. So she is launching an experiment that challenges people to reclaim their boredom. 

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The challenge is called "Bored and Brilliant: The Lost Art Of Spacing Out," and it was inspired by Zomorodi's sense that her smartphone was robbing her of creative energy. "I kind of realized that I have not been bored since I got a smartphone seven years ago," she says.

Experts suggest Zomorodi is on to something. A study by U.K. psychologist Sandi Mann found engaging in a boring task, like copying numbers out of a phone book, produced more novel ideas immediately afterward than did those engaging in more stimulating activities.

Letting your mind wander

Mann says being bored brings the mind to new places. "We might go off in our heads to try and find that stimulation by our minds wandering, daydreaming and you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit in the subconscious which allows sort of different connections to take place," he says.

Zomorodi's "Bored and Brilliant" experiment starts in February. Participants can sign up online and are asked to track their smartphone usage using an app. New Tech City will collect stories and tips about how to reduce smartphone usage and NPR will share them with listeners next month (NPR, 1/12).   

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