I don't get bored. Ever.
I can't recall the last time I experienced, although it was most likely back in school.
I get dissatisfied. Uncomfortable. Restless. Frustrated. But the dull ache of boredom? Never. To paraphrase Zelda Fitzgerald, I refuse to be bored chiefly because I am not boring.
Boredom is a luxury. It's also bad for your health and a general waste of time and energy. It frustrates me when people talk about being bored because that should be an impossibility in today's world. We are living through the most engaging, stimulating, rich period in human history. A single copy of a newspaper today contains more information than people would have experienced throughout their entire lives just a few years ago. Most people never used to go within 100 miles of where they were born, and now it is rare for anyone to not go abroad at least once. There are more books, films, albums, documentaries and articles produced each day than any of us could experience in a lifetime. As Jules Renard wrote, to be bored is an insult to one's self.
The difference between people who get bored and those who don't is an attitude. We often get bored as a result of being too overwhelmed by stimuli to decide what to do. It can seem easier to just do nothing, then complain about it. Never being bored does not mean always being stimulated and entertained. It means recognizing how inherently fascinating the world is and how limited our time is within it. The universe does not owe us constant entertainment. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you do, there will be dull days. There will be queues, waiting rooms and interludes. We can spend that time moaning, or we can make it enjoyable.
Here are the 5 things which prevent me from ever being remotely bored.
1. Give a damn about something.
When you find the one thing you are passionate about, boredom becomes impossible. Every spare moment becomes an opportunity to practice it. Getting bored of something you love doing is rare. Even when it is hard work or things don't go so well, your passion is still the best use of your time. This is especially true if it is not what you do for a living - those minutes of practice add up. Complaining about boredom, then complaining about a lack of time is silly. Even the most niche passion entails a vast amount of knowledge and most are always evolving. There is always more to learn.
For me, writing is my life and not just my job. Regardless of whether I am being paid or not, every available moment is spent on it. I am a firm believer in the 10,000-hour rule for attaining mastery and squeeze in as much time as possible. We all have the one thing we love doing most of all, be it a job or a hobby. During full times, it is always there to work on. This does not mean lapsing into workaholicism or getting burnt out. It means going beyond just doing the necessary practice and devoting time to reading up on it, speaking to others who care about the same thing, attending webinars, watching videos and being immersed. Blogging does not give me the opportunity to breathe, let alone get bored. There is always design work, technical fixes, emails to answer and of course, content to create. It's an endless, enjoyable grind.
2. Pack like a pro.
I'm not someone who can dash out the house with my phone and keys. I never go anywhere without a backpack. In it, you will find at least one book and at least one notebook. During every spare moment, one or the other is in my hands. I also keep my phone stocked up with downloaded podcasts, audiobooks, and ebooks. If you know you might be in a boring situation, pack accordingly. Carrying a book everywhere is the ultimate life hack. I do the bulk of my reading whilst traveling, waiting and other boring liminal times. As Lemony Snicket said, never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. When I have done experiments of tracking how every minute of the day is spent, I am always astonished to see how many hours go on waiting in line, getting between places etc.
3. Have stretch goals.
These are the big, ambitious goals which stretch our capabilities to the max. I love making them to push myself as hard as possible. These are things like: learning a language, reading 4 books a week, overcoming an anxiety, reaching certain goals with my writing and so on. Having big goals keeps me focused, active and hungry. Whenever I am tempted to spend a day wallowing around in self-pity, doing nothing, I open up my list of goals. Even on the dullest days, I remind myself that I can still move one step closer to completing them. I don't always reach them, but it pushes me further than would be possible otherwise.
Even the most mundane activities can be turned into a challenge. I love making things timebound and using gamification techniques. Anything can be turned into a game.
4. Maintain an organized task management system.
Exciting, no. Useful, yes. I used to use a notebook, although now I have switched to Todoist. Anything I have to do on a regular basis is set to repeat. When a task comes up if it takes less than 5-minutes I try to do it straight away. Otherwise, it goes in Todoist. Whenever I am uncertain what I should be doing, I open it up. This way, I never run out of stuff to do. There is always something to get to work on. I keep a folder of big ongoing projects on there, plus others for smaller tasks.
Obviously, this does not mean putting in random and unnecessary stuff or creating tasks for the sake of it. Busy is not the same as productive.
5. Sprinkle good habits throughout the day.
Most of the healthiest habits take just a few minutes to maintain. Boring gaps during the day are the perfect opportunity to maintain them. On the Metro with no phone signal? Meditate. Waiting for a meeting to start? Hydrate. Flight delayed? Do some yoga in the airport (yes, I have indeed done this.)
I try to slot healthy behaviors into my day rather than lumping them together. Of late, I have been exercising for 5 minutes after each 25-minute work session and it adds up. Research has shown this type of interval exercise to be even more beneficiel than a single session. Like everyone, I have my bad habits. Still, I try to sprinkle good ones throughout the day. I typically use the Pomodoro technique when working, which involves a 25-minute session followed by a 5-minute break. During each break, I try to do one healthy thing. This system ensures I am always occupied.
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