How You Can Tame Your Boredom
Episode #3 of the course The fundamentals of mastering your focus by Som Bathla
Welcome to Day 3 of your course. Today, we will talk about why you should tame your boredom and how it can help you master your focus.
Deep vs. Shallow Work
Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, states that every work can be categorized into two different baskets: deep work and shallow work.
• Deep work means the important and time-consuming work that needs a longer period of focused attention, but not so urgent as to be done today.
• Shallow work means work like emails, office circulars, notices, etc. that don’t offer any long-term rewards but come tagged as urgent.
It may happen that while doing your deep work, you get a strong urge to digress and quickly open a browser to check your social media feeds, make a phone call, do anything other than work. This is called boredom from work, and it happens when there is a portion of your project that doesn’t interest you or is overwhelming. But this intermittent boredom is something you need to start embracing to keep yourself in the game. Why? Let’s first understand how our brains function.
The Brain’s Learning Mechanism
Our minds are lazy by default. The prefrontal cortex is the front part of our brains, primarily responsible for all our deep learning and work requiring focus. Willpower and energy are needed to keep this part of brain committed to new things. But once you stay committed and put your brain to work on boring or overwhelming portions of work, the brain starts to adapt itself.
And then the magic happens. Your brain, by consistent practice for longer hours, learns that portion and sends it to a subconscious portion of the mind that is responsible for automated actions. That activity, which seemed tough or boring, now becomes a part of your automated actions, and you no longer need to put mental energy into it; this can happen with the least of efforts on an auto-pilot basis.
Remember learning how to ride a bicycle or drive a car? Recall how much attention was required in the initial phase to learn each step, with deep concentration. However, once the process was engraved in our mind at a subconscious level, you now don’t need to think when to push the accelerator, apply brakes, or change gears.
How You Can Stick to Your Work Despite Getting Bored
Offer a reward to your mind by allocating a specific time for looking at all kinds of distractions. It could be anything outside the scope of your current important project—for example, your emails, social media feeds, text messages, or talking to your colleague about something. It could be anything to divert your attention from work.
You are free to decide the frequency and scheduled time for such breaks—maybe five minutes after every 30 minutes or ten minutes after every hour. Given the immense benefit that the activity that triggers boredom can turn into an autopilot process, you must commit to embracing your boredom. Keep your nose to the grindstone for a dedicated period by promising your mind instant reward in the form of things you love to do.
I have personally implemented this and know that this one art of taming your boredom will immensely help beat distractions and master your focus. It is worth building discipline for handling the boredom to reap the rewards of freedom.
“True Freedom is impossible without a mind made free by Discipline.” —Mortimer Adler
Tomorrow, we will talk about multitasking and why you should avoid it.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
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