Church Creatives: Let’s talk about boredom!
Why do we get all of our best ideas in the shower?
By: Kirk Hadden | Creativity featured
Below is a lightly edited transcription of the video above, featuring ArtSpeak Co-Founder Kirk Hadden with branding expert and illustrator Eric Hungerford.
How can boredom save your life?
Eric: We’re going to talk about boredom. How can boredom save your life?
Kirk: I think that is perhaps the question of the century because we’ve finally eliminated the world of the disease of boredom.
Eric: Finally found a cure.
Kirk: We did.
Eric: You’re welcome.
Kirk: We did. It lives in your pocket and you have it with you all day long. You never have to be bored anymore. Anytime you’re standing in line, you’re ready. Anytime you go to the bathroom, you’re ready.
Eric: Waiting for your sandwich at the deli.
Kirk: We’ve eliminated boredom, but much like many of the problems that we’ve solved in modern life, we have created other problems. The CEOs of tech companies like Apple have admitted that they don’t let their kids use smartphones. Apple has expressed regret that they created the notification system that they did.
The truth is we’ve come to recognize that this is a major problem.
Kirk: Since the introduction of the smartphone, our average IQ scores have begun to drop. Our productivity at work has begun to drop for the first time in 100 years.
Kirk: We know this is a problem, but I think it’s a huge problem in the world of creativity because I think there’s this dialectic between inspiration — because creativity is the combination of other ideas to create new ideas. You don’t come up with a new idea all on its own, out of nowhere. It’s the combination of a couple of other ideas. You need inspiration.
You need to see things that kind of “mix” in your subconscious, but we’re skipping that mixing part because that’s where boredom comes in.
That act of boredom, of being intentionally bored, to turn off your smartphone, to turn off the TV and the laptop and get yourself away from all of the noise that the modern world offers us and let your brain be bored.
At first, it’s going to be difficult, but what happens is your subconscious comes back online and starts making connections between things that it was too worn out to do before.
How do you become bored?
Eric: I have had to create my own boundaries so that I can be bored.
I’m fortunate enough to have looked a lot into the science behind the subconscious mind realizing that the number of neurons that are involved with the subconscious thought is just well beyond a conscious thought.
It’s difficult to kind of quantify and wrap our minds around it, but it’s like a supercomputer that’s solving problems for us on our behalf without us even having to do it ourselves.
I think of one of the … Have you ever seen that PBS did this remix of Mr. Rogers where they auto-tuned his voice to “garden of your mind?” Check it out. It’s amazing. It’s amazing in part because the mind garden has been a concept that has helped our branding team, our creative team, to realize the power of imagining your mind is a garden. You’re sowing the right seeds into it.
Creative Ideas Grow in Your Mind Garden
Eric: The soil has to be healthy soil to grow things on its own. For a creative, the things that are growing in the garden of your mind are those new ideas. It happens for you. It happens on accident when your garden is healthy.
Your garden’s not healthy if you’re just causing noise to go into it all the time. For me, it just has required certain boundaries, shutting things off that have addicted me and distracted me. I don’t know what that looks like for you.
Kirk: I think there’s a way to maximize this. It’s interesting because if I asked you when you had your best ideas, most people would say in the shower.
Eric: In the shower.
Kirk: Do you know why? It’s the last place that you can’t take your smartphone with you. It is a moment of forced boredom, you and the water. But I think you can take that even further in simple ways that we just don’t tend to do so much anymore.
You look at the habits of some of the great thinkers of past eras, where they would get up and they would work from whenever they got up at 6:00 in the morning to 11:00 a.m. They would write, they would do whatever scientific research they were doing, then they’d have lunch and then they’d go walk in nature all afternoon.
Kirk: Lazy. I mean, literally, they would walk for hours and hours and hours. This is a pretty common paradigm for these great thinkers of 100-150 years ago.
Where’s the hustle?!
Kirk: Well, the interesting thing is the studies have shown that your productivity on creativity actually starts to drop off after six or seven hours of going at it. You can work more hours after that, but you will actually end up less productive — you have accomplished less if you worked nine hours every day versus six hours every day. That’s another story.
But I would suggest to you one simple way to immediately increase your creative productivity is to go take a walk in as natural an environment as you can get in without your smartphone for half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour every day. Your brain will start …
Eric: Can I listen to a podcast?
Kirk: No. Shut it off. Shut it off. Let your brain …
Kirk: Because studies have shown that nature on its own will actually boost your creativity, that even looking out the window at something green has a temporary boost to your creativity. Movement has a huge boost to your creativity.
Then the boredom, of course, has a boost to your creativity. Combine those three things with a walk in nature without your smartphone, that’s a recipe for …
Eric: Just listen to audible and nothing else. Got it.
Kirk: Go forth and be bored and make great things.
Need to Jumpstart Your Creativity?
We share many of our best ideas on our Instagram page. You might especially enjoy:
- How to communicate the gospel if you’re not your church’s principal teacher (video here)
- This Suzanne Stabile quote about perfection
- Our creative process in one image
- Tim Keller on our identity and our work
And if you need to collaborate with a creative team, we’d love to help. We become part of your team, collaborating with leaders to help them bring their vision to pass. (And to help when you just have way too much to do.)
If that sounds like what your ministry needs, let’s talk. Fill out the form below, and we’ll set up a session.