At the time of writing, more than 100 million Americans are in lockdown, including a whole lot of anxious small business owners. This secession of normal life is stressful and constricting, and the situation surrounding it is undeniably tragic, but research can provide at least a small silver lining - the boredom is very likely to make you more creative.
Boredom is your brain telling you to get creative.
You've probably seen evidence of this already in the form of social media hilarity, thoughtful community initiatives, and an outpouring of creativity from artists. Maybe, however, lockdown has produced more panic and all-day PJs than great ideas in your house so far, and you've concluded this flowering of creativity is unlikely to apply to you.
Think again, science suggests. Your current sluggish boredom isn't smothering your good ideas, it's incubating them. In fact, the more bored you get, the more your creativity is likely to be activated.
One study, for instance, tortured participants with the mind-numbing task of copying out the phone book for 15 minutes. No doubt the subjects cursed themselves for volunteering at first, but those who suffered through the task came up with significantly more creative ideas than a control group when the scientists tested them later.
Other studies reveal that bored people are more likely to seek out novel ideas and engaging activities. Boredom is your brain signaling you to get creative.
But wait, you might say, how creative can I possibly be when I am stuck at home? Valid question, but as Joey Camire reports on Quartz recently, research provides an encouraging answer here too. Recent European studies show that the more constraints we have, the more creative we become. As I've written here on Inc.com, experts on boosting innovation agree that constraints make for more creative ideas.
Lean into your boredom.
While the problems your business faces are probably grave and the constraints very real, at least you can take some small comfort in knowing that the human brain is primed to make lemonade out of these lemons. Limitations and boredom are no fun, but they do drive us to greater creativity.
So next time you feel that itchy, 'I'm going to explode if I have to sit here one more minute' sensation, maybe don't instantly reach for your phone or that stack of undone donkey work. Instead, try taking a breath and leaning into the boredom a little. You just might find your mind has higher gears of creativity than you ever expected.