Here are some highlights from Manoush’s talk:
I started talking to neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, and what they told me was fascinating. It turns out that when you get bored, you ignite a network in your brain called the "default mode." So our body, it goes on autopilot while we're folding the laundry or we're walking to work, but actually that is when our brain gets really busy.
But could this cycle be broken? What would happen if we broke this vicious cycle? Maybe my listeners could help me find out. What if we reclaimed those cracks in our day? Could it help us jump-start our creativity? We called the project "Bored and Brilliant." And I expected, you know, a couple hundred people to play along, but thousands of people started signing up. And they told me the reason they were doing it was because they were worried that their relationship with their phone had grown kind of ... "codependent," shall we say.
I mean, you know the feeling: that amazing episode of "Transparent" ends, and then the next one starts playing so you're like, eh, OK fine, I'll just stay up and watch it. Or the LinkedIn progress bar says you are this close to having the perfect profile, so you add a little more personal information. As one UX designer told me, the only people who refer to their customers as "users" are drug dealers and technologists.
In the end, 20,000 people did "Bored and Brilliant" that week. Ninety percent cut down on their minutes. Seventy percent got more time to think. People told me that they slept better. They felt happier. My favorite note was from a guy who said he felt like he was waking up from a mental hibernation.
So the next time you go to check your phone, remember that if you don't decide how you're going to use the technology, the platforms will decide for you. And ask yourself: What am I really looking for? Because if it's to check email, that's fine -- do it and be done. But if it's to distract yourself from doing the hard work that comes with deeper thinking, take a break, stare out the window and know that by doing nothing you are actually being your most productive and creative self. It might feel weird and uncomfortable at first, but boredom truly can lead to brilliance.