Boredom is usually regarded as a negative and unproductive feeling. If someone is bored, then time simply passes not being used well. The best way to fight boredom is to try to learn something. By learning, we mean either the discovery of something new, or the continued mastery of something already attained. Here are some reasons why learning is such a good task to combat boredom:
Learning is growth.
There is a saying “You’re either growing or you’re dying.” Following that logic, the moment you stop growing is the moment you start dying. And what better way to achieve growth than to learn something?
Research shows that one of the top contributors for employee engagement and retention in the workplace are ample opportunities for growth. While compensation is indeed important, it isn’t the only reason why workers choose to work and stay in a company. People have that need to experience progress through achievement, especially in areas that are meaningful to them. This is why great companies always provide employees with learning opportunities.
Habit 2 in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is to “Begin with the end in mind.” If the path for growth is somehow clear to us, then it may be time to learn things to achieve those goals. If not yet, then perhaps it’s time to learn what kind of growth we wish for ourselves.
Learning is fun.
A commonly heard argument is that there should be fun in learning. The success of learning platforms that gamify education, say Duolingo with its experience points, friendly competition with people in your friends list, and leaderboards, is not to be taken lightly. Games can make even mundane tasks more fun.
If a learning task is boring, perhaps it can be improved by setting some creative challenges and goals to meet. If we’re feeling competitive, we can go on friendly competition with our friends.
While gamifying learning is a good way to engage learners, introducing fun in learning through extrinsic motivations such as treats and rewards is not as effective and lasting compared to intrinsic motivation. The better question would be how to make learning more meaningful to us? When the knowledge or skill learned is meaningful to us, then the attainment of that knowledge is rewarding, and therefore, fun.
Let’s take the series “MythBusters” for example. While Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage’s different views and personalities have good chemistry when they build (and then blow up) stuff in the name of science, it’s no secret that they don’t get along well off set. Despite their differences, they still managed to get to air 14 seasons, a total of 282 episodes, from 2003 up to 2016. Why? They were in it for the science – the learning. Myth-busting and fact-finding was the secret sauce that bound them together to work on great things for those 13 years.
With this in mind, we should try to seek out topics that pique our curiosity and satisfy our interests. Find out what you are passionate about, and learn much from it. The other fun parts will just flow and soon follow once we get the ball rolling.
Learning is life.
One of the important skills in life is lifelong learning. After all, given numbers 1 and 2, those who learn are those who grow and have fun in life. Learning also has health benefits. Research suggests that a year of formal education can increase life expectancy to around half a year. (+0.18 years using a 3 percent discounting rate, or +0.6 years without any discounting, according to the research, just to be exact.)
Hopefully you’re no longer as bored as you were when you started reading this. If you’re still bored, the articles from my fellow blog writers should provide good (and fun!) learning opportunities.
But if we’re bored but not exactly in the mood or mindset to learn something, well, the next best thing would be to declutter. In that case, I guess it’s time to clean up our rooms again.
In RareJob, we are exposed to learning opportunities, and we are quite particular with health. The last event I attended was a talk about Hepatitis B: how it can be contracted, how it can be prevented, and so on. It is not really work-related (I mean it did take an hour out from my coding time), but the lessons are good to know. After all, healthy workers tend to produce healthy results.