Putting Down Your Phone For Once Will Actually Make You More Creative

by John Haltiwanger

We spend way too much time looking at screens these days.

The average person looks at his or her phone around 1,500 times per week and for a total of around three hours per day.

And if we're not on our phones, we're staring at a TV, laptop or tablet. Most of us probably reach for our phones first thing in the morning, before we even get out of bed.

This is hardly a new topic. It's no secret we've become too reliant on technology as a society.

We've all been scolded by someone for being on our phones when we're out in public (despite the fact that everyone is guilty of the same thing).

And most of us have probably felt as though we've become less connected with people because we spend so much time on our devices.

But it's not only connectedness we're losing as a consequence of our addiction to smartphones; we're also sacrificing our creativity.

Most of the time, we reach for our phones when we're bored. We often don't even realize what we're doing; it's simply become a natural reaction to a lack of stimulation. Consequently, we've lost sight of the fact that boredom is actually extremely valuable.

As noted by NPR, research has shown that boredom fosters creativity.

One such study comes from psychologists at the University of Central Lancashire. They split a group of participants in two and asked half to copy numbers from a phone book before doing a creative task.

The other set of participants were immediately thrown into the creative task, no boring copying involved.

Ultimately, they found the bored participants in the phone book group produced far more ideas than the others during the task.

And experts in education have suggested children should be allowed to get bored for similar reasons, as highlighted by the BBC.

They argue against the conventional wisdom that we should keep children constantly busy in order to help them learn and grow.

This actually makes a lot of sense. When we're bored, our minds are free to wander. We need this kind of mental freedom to breed fresh ideas.

Can you remember the last time you were bored for a prolonged period of time? It was probably before you got a smartphone. In those days, we had to read real books with paper and ink or have actual face-to-face conversations to keep ourselves entertained.

Yet, with a smartphone in your hand, you have infinite ways to amuse yourself.

In this world of perpetual stimulation, we've become inundated with information. It can be difficult and exhausting for the brain to process all of this.

Much like the body, our mind needs some time to rest, relax and recharge. It's what allows the brain to finally make sense of all the info we've crammed into it.

Simply put, if you've found yourself facing a creative block as of late, consider stepping away from your phone for longer periods of time.

The next time you feel the urge to pull it out of your pocket, allow yourself to daydream instead.

There's a reason people say they have their best ideas in the shower: It's one of the only places without other distractions.

Let your mind wander -- you never know where it might take you.

Citations: The average user now picks up their device more than 1500 times a week (The Daily Mail), 20 Reasons Why So Many People Get Their Best Ideas in the Shower (Huffington Post), Children should be allowed to get bored expert says (BBC News), Bored at work Thats not a bad thing (Slate), Being Bored Can Fire Up Your Creativity (PsyBlog), Bored And Brilliant A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone (NPR)