Being bored

Boredom has a bad reputation, it’s generally thought that boredom is dangerous and a disruptive state of mind to be feared and avoided at all costs hence why technology (the internet, the web, computers, smart phones, tablets etc…) that provides us with easy access to perpetual entertainment has been so eagerly embraced by so many people who have to have their smart phones surgically removed from their meaty paws.

Indeed boredom can be a bad thing that can lead to destructive behaviour. But there is evidence that boredom can also be good for us and that boredom at work can make us more creative.

One of my favourite writers, Nick Earls, agrees that boredom is a good thing saying in an interview that it’s important to be bored “because out of boredom comes imagination and creativity”. And Nick is dead right boredom is important. We should allow ourselves to get bored and embrace boredom.

Sometimes I think I might have ADD or ADHD because I can’t spend a long period of time focused on a single task because I get bored easily. Instead I tend to multi task for shorter periods of time. When I was younger I could focus on a single task for a long period of time but now I’m hopeless at it. I get bored if I spend a long period of time on a single task. That boredom then leads to distraction. For example every ten or fifteen minutes I would get bored of writing this post and instead of writing I’d spend about 28 minutes watching a video from the One Plus One archives of an interview with a smart, funny, creative person. But then after each video I’d get bored again and would come back to writing this post for another ten or fifteen minutes before I’d get bored again and go find another video to watch.

Instead of trying to find a reason (it’s technology) for why I can’t concentrate for a long period of time on a single task I embrace it and allow myself to get bored and distracted. I let myself multi task and spend short bursts of time on multiple tasks.

I think that by getting bored of something or giving up on a problem temporarily and allowing myself to be distracted by doing something else (and not actively thinking about the problem I’m trying to solve while I do that something else) that it somehow recharges my brain with new and fresh ideas and makes me want to pick up the problem that I got bored of again.

So how does this apply photography? At some point we all run low on inspiration and get bored of photography. When we lack inspiration and get bored of photography we often try to fight through that boredom and lack of inspiration by trying to find more inspiration. But trying to find inspiration sometimes does more damage than it does to just give up and do something else until we feel like getting back to photography.

I’d end up hating photography and possibly never come back to it if I try and fight a lack of inspiration and boredom by sticking with it and looking for more inspiration to replace my lack of it. What’s the solution? Give up, do something else, read a book, play games, watch videos, movies, binge watch TV shows until you get bored of that then maybe you might feel like getting back to photography again. It may or may not work for you like it works for me but it’s worth a go.

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