Being Bored At Work Could Boost Creativity, Study Suggests

Why A Slow Day At Work Bolsters Your Creativity

We've got some surprising news, workers of the world: Being bored at work could actually be a good thing.

New research presented at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology shows that being bored at work means more daydreaming time -- leading to an increase in creativity. However, more research is needed to see how exactly this creativity manifests.

"Boredom at work has always been seen as something to be eliminated, but perhaps we should be embracing it in order to enhance our creativity," study researcher Dr. Sandi Mann, of the University of Central Lancashire, said in a statement.

"What we want to do next is to see what the practical implications of this finding are," Mann added. "Do people who are bored at work become more creative in other areas of their work -- or do they go home and write novels?"

The study had two parts: the first included 80 people, all of whom were asked to come up with creative uses for two cups. Half of the study participants first underwent a boring 15-minute task where they had to copy phone numbers from a directory.

Researchers found that those who were given the boring task first had more creative uses for the cups, compared with those who were immediately asked to come up with creative uses.

The second part of the study was similar, except instead of just having some of the study participants do the boring task of copying phone numbers out of a directory, some study participants had to read the phone numbers.

Like in the first part, researchers found that the people who immediately did the creativity task without having to do a boring task first were the least creative. However, the most creative people in the study were the people who had to read the phone numbers, followed by the people who had the copy and write the phone numbers -- suggesting the less passive the boring act, the more creativity can come of it.

The findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, so they should be regarded as preliminary. But still, this is hardly the first time the benefits of daydreaming have been revealed in a study. Research that came out last year in the journal Psychological Science showed an association between daydreaming and creative problem-solving.

And another study in the same journal showed that people whose minds wander during simple tasks may actually have a higher capacity for working memory, which is what enables us to think about multiple things at once (and has been linked with IQ!).

What do you think about the findings? When you're bored at work, how do you pass the time? Tell us in the comments!

Support HuffPost

Before You Go

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Go to Homepage

Popular in the Community


Gift Guides