In Praise of Boredom
Last week I was in technical rehearsals for Panto.
Anyone who has worked in theatre will know that tech runs can be long and at times tedious, with a lot of hanging around.
On the first day of tech, I started getting into the habit of picking up my phone in the long gaps, and mind-numbingly scrolling through rubbish on the internet without thought or purpose.
At the end of the day I felt fairly dreadful as a result, and decided that the next day I would bring in a book to enjoy whilst I was waiting around for my next cue.
Only I forgot to do so.
So what was I going to do in those tedious gaps? How could I ensure that I didn’t waste that time?
Well, I decided that I would do precisely nothing. I left my phone in the green room and in the breaks between cues, I just sat, essentially twiddling my thumbs.
This was of course, a little boring. However the long-term effect was that by the end of the day, I felt so much better for not having fed my brain pointless bullshit.
But the lesson learnt here was just not simply “Don’t spend too much time on your phone.”
The greater lesson was that sometimes doing nothing is better than the alternative; even if it is a little dull.
I felt as though I had to fill every minute with something interesting. I couldn’t stand the prospect of wasted time. I had to do something, even if it was something that I didn’t believe in or value.
But if those things we do to fill our time take us in the opposite direction from where we want to go, then perhaps it is better to do nothing. Standing still is better than going backwards.
That is not to say that you cannot get value from using your phone. You can after all send an encouraging text to a friend, read an interesting article, or respond to that email thats been weighing on your mind.
But if we choose to take certain actions simply to kill time, perhaps we should sometimes consider that boredom might actually be the better option.
Apart from anything else we can treat it as a special opportunity to pause, gather our thoughts and take some time out from our potentially hectic lives.
And doing precisely that, in my book, certainly does not constitute wasted time.