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Why boredom at work is a good thing

Posting in Science

You might be a hard worker, but we all go through slow times at work. We get bored and feel guilty. Or maybe you do mind-numbing tasks all day. But instead of feeling guilty about being bored at work it might be best to embrace the boredom.

A new study out of the University of Central Lancashire finds that boredom at work might actually make us more creative.

There were two parts of the study. In the first, the researchers had 40 people do a boring task, copying numbers from a telephone book, for 15 minutes. When the time was up they were asked to complete another, more creative task: coming up with uses for a pair of polystyrene cups. When compared with a control group, the people who were doing the boring task were judged as being more creative.

In the second part, the researchers wanted to find out if daydreaming was a factor in increasing creativity. This time researchers had 30 people write down numbers from a phone book as in the first study, but they also had another group of 30 reading the numbers instead of writing them. This time, the reading group was more creative than the writing group and both were more creative than the control group. Suggesting, "more passive boring activities, like reading or perhaps attending meetings, can lead to more creativity."

"Boredom at work has always been seen as something to be eliminated, but perhaps we should be embracing it in order to enhance our creativity," said Dr. Sandi Mann, one of the study's co-authors, in a statement. "What we want to do next is to see what the practical implications of this finding are. Do people who are bored at work become more creative in other areas of their work -- or do they go home and write novels?"

[h/t Science Daily]

Photo: Flickr/Steve Kay

— By on January 9, 2013, 4:15 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure