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Being Bored at Work Can Lead to More Creativity

Update Date: Jan 11, 2013 07:29 AM EST

Has coming to office everyday started bothering you? Are you not interested in your work and often get bored? Well, it may all turn out to be for the best, as a new research claims that being bored at work can have can have positive results, including an increase in creativity because it gives us time to daydream.

The study, conducted by Dr. Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman from the University of Central Lancashire, was presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology.

For the study, the researchers conducted two experiments. First, they asked 40 people to carry out a boring task (copying numbers out of a telephone directory) for 15 minutes, and then again asked them to complete another task, which involved creativity (coming up with different uses for a pair of polystyrene cups).

The results of the study showed that the 40 people who had first copied out the telephone numbers were more creative than the control group of 40 people who did the second creative task, without doing the first one.

In order to check if daydreaming was the real reason why candidates got creative, the researchers included a second task which was apparently even more boring than the first one and allowed more daydreaming. In this second task, 30 people were copying out the numbers as before, while a second group of 30 people read the numbers rather than writing them.

In the second experiment too, the researchers found that the control group was least creative, while the people who finished the boring tasks performed much more creatively. Here, the people who read the names were more creative than those who wrote them.

The findings of the study suggest that more passive boring activities can lead to more creativity.

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

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