The other day, a friend of mine put up a Facebook update stating that she was incredibly bored. I wrote back and suggested that she come visit me, as I have more than enough things to do.
I’ve come to believe that boredom is the enemy of a vibrant, enjoyable, and values-based life. As the saying goes, the devil finds work for idle hands to do.
Let’s start out by defining exactly what boredom is. According to Merriam-Webster, boredom is “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.”
Lack of interest.
If you don’t have anything interesting around you to do, you’re going to be itching to find something interesting. That’s often a very expensive state to be in.
Often, because that wandering is unchanneled (if it wasn’t, you’d not be bored to begin with), you’ll wind up doing something that’s not a good use of your time. That’s also an expensive state to be in because of the lost opportunity.
Boredom has led me to the bookstore more times than I can count, as well as to electronic stores. It’s also led me to idle away whole afternoons on pointless activities that never really led to anything at all.
I’ve made an effort to completely eliminate boredom from my life – and I’ve mostly succeeded.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have leisure time. I certainly do engage in lots of things that are mostly for my own enjoyment. It also doesn’t mean I don’t have unstructured time. I just always have projects to fill that time.
Here’s what I’ve done to specifically combat boredom in my life.
First, if I ever conceive of a project that I might want to work on, I add it to my “project book.” This book is simply loaded with things that I’d love to work on if I have the time, from painting some of the unpainted pieces in a few of the board games I own to writing a novel I have in my head to building an add-on laundry room off of our kitchen to reading a challenging book I’ve never tried… the list goes on and on and on.
Then, if I ever find myself even approaching boredom, I look at that list immediately. There are so many things on it that I want to do that I always find something that gets me excited in that moment, and off to the races I go.
If nothing on that list excites me, then I assume I need sleep and I go take a nap or go to bed after drinking a big glass of water. Rehydration and adequate sleep are my first responses to getting things back on track if I ever feel out of whack.
Boredom is my enemy. When I see it cropping up, I aim to defeat it quickly. If I let it grow, bad things tend to happen.