The Surprising Connection Between Boredom and Innovation

It’s great that we have entertainment and things to do at our fingertips 24/7, but should we always fight boredom? The answer appears to be “no,” according to studies that show that boredom can have a surprising effect on creativity and innovation.

Boredom is more than just not doing anything–it is an annoying feeling that you want to be doing something satisfying, but you have nothing satisfying to do at the moment. This annoying feeling means that your brain is working, and it doesn’t have anything pressing and immediate to work on, leaving it free to think about things like new ways to do things or to solve problems that haven’t been considered before.

Studies on Boredom and Innovation

A 1970s study asked participants to do problem-solving and word association exercises and gave them way too much time to do so. To fill up the time and avoid boredom, they first gave all the obvious answers but then gave more and more creative, outside the box ones.

Another study asked participants to come up with creative new uses for an ordinary household object and found that those who did a boring task first came up with more creative answers than those who didn’t. There is something about boredom that clears the mind so that you can think more clearly and creatively about things.

Professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine Gloria Mark has studied the way people’s attention shifts from online to offline activities while they are working, and Mark has found that the time frame has gone from every three minutes a few years ago to every 45 seconds in the most recent study.

She also found that even when people are not interrupted by their boss or coworkers, they begin to self-interrupt in order to maintain the level of stimulation, even though it causes them more stress to do so. This is why intentional downtime is necessary to clear the mind.

How to Induce Boredom in a 24/7-Connected World

In today’s world of constant stimulation from email, texts, and social media apps, boredom has to be an intentional thing that people put into their lives, much like exercise or therapy. If you don’t decide to be bored, you may never put your phone down long enough to get the mind-clearing benefits boredom can give you–or the innovation that often follows.

In a crowdsourced 2015 study, podcaster Manoush Zomorodi asked 20,000 of her listeners to engage in certain digital behaviors each day for a week and found that putting down devices while waiting for and riding the subway or walking from place to place gave people enough downtime to clear their brains and led to creative ideas later.

Participants also found downtime by deleting their favorite app for one day a week and making themselves unavailable at work for brief periods so they could clear their minds. Zomorodi’s book “Bored and Brilliant” details the efforts of her unofficial study participants and how getting away from technology just for a little while led to new ideas and ways of solving problems.

“The beauty of boredom is not knowing where your mind is going to take you,” Zomorodi says in the book.

CCSU offers continuing education courses that can help your mind think in new ways by exposing them to new ideas, both in their career fields and outside them for personal enrichment. To join the mailing list and learn more about them, contact Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.

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Top 5 Ways to Be Innovative in Work and Life

Being innovative means having new ideas and doing new things that you haven’t done before as well as doing familiar things in different ways. Chances are, your work and your life are interconnected in many ways, which means that innovations in one will often carry over to the other.

Here are some ways that you can be more innovative in work and life.

1. Listen to podcasts.

Podcasts bring new thoughts and new ideas into your life (including your work). Rather than watching reruns of the same shows or watching movies over and over again, you can spend some of that time listening to a variety of podcasts on topics you find interesting, and identifying some ideas for innovative activities you can introduce into your work and life to keep things fresh and new.

2. Tackle old, routine tasks in new ways.

Some ways to approach routine tasks in new ways including driving to and from work by a different route, grocery shopping at a different store, or (for women) letting the lady at the department store do your makeup and see if you like how it comes out. It could be cooking several meals for the week at once instead of cooking every day. The possibilities are endless but will keep you thinking about your day in new ways.

3. Imagine how an admired person might do things.

Most people have others they admire. Imagining how someone you admire might do things differently may give you new ways of accomplishing tasks and lead to innovations you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. This can be repeated as many times as there are people you admire, and may lead you to adopt new behaviors and methods permanently if they work well.

4. Flesh out some of those seemingly “crazy” ideas.

So-called crazy ideas have been responsible for most life-changing innovations like space travel, medical advances and electric cars. Following your crazy ideas to their logical conclusion can sometimes make you believe in them enough to take the next step toward making them a reality. Try to learn how to shut off the voice that always says things are impossible and spend a little more time dreaming about what just might be possible one day.

5. Take a class to expand your personal and professional horizons.

Taking a continuing education class can expose you to the newest and best ideas on a particular subject in a stimulating environment of your peers. In most cases, your instructor will be an expert in the subject with many years of experience that you will have access to, which will give you many new ideas and thoughts that you can use in your own work and/or life to improve it.

CCSU offers hundreds of continuing education courses that can bring innovative thoughts and actions into your work and life. For updates on upcoming courses and schedules, join the mailing list by contacting Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.

6 Ways Recreational Interests Help You Have a Better Career

Creative hobbies help your brain be more creative in your career.

It may seem counterintuitive, but studies have shown that people with hobbies and interests outside their work are actually more effective in their careers overall. Here are some of the ways recreational interests can help you have a better career.

1. You will be more creative.

If your hobby is creative, like crafting, drawing or painting, or building model cars, one organizational psychology study showed that you will be more creative at work as a result. It seems that your creativity during leisure time hours carries over into your work and influences creativity there as well.

2. You will recover better from work demands.

Those who have high-demand careers know how difficult it can be to let go of the stress and relax during off hours. Being involved in hobbies outside of work helped people relax more than those who didn’t have any hobbies to focus on, according to the same study.

3. You will be healthier.

Multiple studies showed improved health in those who engaged in recreational activities outside of work, including one in which blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference and body mass index were all lower in those who had hobbies than in those who didn’t.

Hobbies give your brain a break from thinking about work.

4. You will avoid burnout.

Having a hobby gets your mind off work and refreshes it so that you can go back to work the next day with renewed energy and focus. When you’re engaged in a hobby, you’re not constantly rehashing work difficulties or thinking about your Monday morning to-do list, which means you are less likely to burn out and just get to the point where you can’t handle the stress anymore.

5. You will be more productive at work.

This is particularly true for careers in which work you don’t get done during the workday follows you home, like teaching and many salaried positions where you are expected to work until your tasks are completed. When you have something you want to do after you get off work, you are more likely to make sure you get everything done that you need to so that you don’t need to stay late or bring work home.

6. You will have a different perspective.

Having recreational activities changes your perspective about work in a couple of ways. First, you will not see your career as the only important or meaningful activity in your life. Second, you will not see yourself as the only one who can get the job done, but will rely more on others to be responsible and reliable while you are investing time in your hobby. These perspective changes are healthy, and are yet another way that your hobbies benefit your career.

CCSU offers a series of one-day courses and events under its “life and leisure” section that are designed to foster work-life balance in concrete ways and encourage hobbies. To join the mailing list contact Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.

Why Apply Lean Principles in Healthcare?

Lean principles are customer-centered. These principles focus on continuously improving processes by innovating and streamlining them to maximize cost savings and quality simultaneously.

The overall goal of lean principles is to solve the common and ongoing problems of a system or situation by coming up with ideas and then choosing the best ones and implementing them. This process leads to a gradual and progressive improvement in the way things are done.

In healthcare, lean principles look to cut down on wasted time and materials while improving patient care. Lean principles help healthcare organizations meet their obligations to patients, insurance companies and in government-run systems, taxpayers, to keep costs as low as possible while still providing timely and effective patient care.

Why Go Lean?

Besides cost savings, lean healthcare can have many other benefits for providers and patients. One aspect of lean principles is the continuous improvement of all processes with analysis and testing, which can lead to innovations that are more effective or less expensive than existing methods.

Putting lean principles in place can also discipline employees to be more thoughtful in their methods, which can lead to advances that might not otherwise occur. It is possible to do more with fewer resources when a lean infrastructure is in place that encourages both lean processes and an openness to developing even better methods in the future.

The fact is, in many areas, healthcare costs continue to rise above the rate of inflation, and patients are having a more and more difficult time affording the care that they need. Lean principles are not just a nice idea but are needed to make health care available to those that need it most.

Lean Principles Change Systems

It isn’t easy to change an entire system or an entrenched way of doing things, but change happens. Making use of advances as they come to our attention is the only way to keep up with progress and avoid being left behind.

With lean principles, healthcare systems can use advances to keep costs lower and provide better patient care. Lean principles have been used to reduce patient wait times, see more patients in less time (without sacrificing quality), use space better, and increase patient safety, among other improvements.

CCSU is offering a lean healthcare certificate program to help healthcare leaders learn about lean principles and how they can apply them in their practices or clinical settings.  Students will learn specific techniques like the Plan-Do-Check-Act Improvement Cycle, value stream and process mapping, mistake-proofing, and daily management systems, among other methods that implement lean principles in healthcare settings.

Visit http://www.ccsu.edu/ConEd and view our programs.  Contact Judy Ratcliffe at 860-832-2276 or jratcliffe@ccsu.edu for more information.

 

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Top 5 Ways to Be Innovative in Work and Life

There are always new ways to approach routine tasks at work and in life.

Being innovative means having new ideas and doing new things that you haven’t done before as well as doing familiar things in different ways. Chances are, your work and your life are interconnected in many ways, which means that innovations in one will often carry over to the other.

Here are some ways that you can be more innovative in work and life.

1. Listen to podcasts.

Podcasts bring new thoughts and new ideas into your life (including your work). Rather than watching reruns of the same shows or watching movies over and over again, you can spend some of that time listening to a variety of podcasts on topics you find interesting, and identifying some ideas for innovative activities you can introduce into your work and life to keep things fresh and new.

2. Tackle old, routine tasks in new ways.

Some ways to approach routine tasks in new ways including driving to and from work by a different route, grocery shopping at a different store, or (for women) letting the lady at the department store do your makeup and see if you like how it comes out. It could be cooking several meals for the week at once instead of cooking every day. The possibilities are endless but will keep you thinking about your day in new ways.

3. Imagine how an admired person might do things.

Most people have others they admire. Imagining how someone you admire might do things differently may give you new ways of accomplishing tasks and lead to innovations you wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. This can be repeated as many times as there are people you admire and may lead you to adopt new behaviors and methods permanently if they work well.

Taking a course in person or online can bring innovation to life or work.

4. Flesh out some of those seemingly “crazy” ideas.

So-called crazy ideas have been responsible for most life-changing innovations like space travel, medical advances, and electric cars. Following your crazy ideas to their logical conclusion can sometimes make you believe in them enough to take the next step toward making them a reality. Try to learn how to shut off the voice that always says things are impossible and spend a little more time dreaming about what just might be possible one day.

5. Take a class to expand your personal and professional horizons.

Taking a continuing education class can expose you to the newest and best ideas on a particular subject in a stimulating environment of your peers. In most cases, your instructor will be an expert in the subject with many years of experience that you will have access to, which will give you many new ideas and thoughts that you can use in your own work and/or life to improve it.

CCSU offers hundreds of continuing education courses that can bring innovative thoughts and actions into your work and life. For updates on upcoming courses and schedules, join the mailing list by contacting Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.

6 Ways Recreational Interests Help You Have a Better Career

Creative hobbies help your brain be more creative in your career.

It may seem counterintuitive, but studies have shown that people with hobbies and interests outside their work are actually more effective in their careers overall. Here are some of the ways recreational interests can help you have a better career.

1. You will be more creative.

If your hobby is creative, like crafting, drawing or painting, or building model cars, one organizational psychology study showed that you will be more creative at work as a result. It seems that your creativity during leisure time hours carries over into your work and influences creativity there as well.

2. You will recover better from work demands.

Those who have high-demand careers know how difficult it can be to let go of the stress and relax during off hours. Being involved in hobbies outside of work helped people relax more than those who didn’t have any hobbies to focus on, according to the same study.

3. You will be healthier.

Multiple studies showed improved health in those who engaged in recreational activities outside of work, including one in which blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference and body mass index were all lower in those who had hobbies than in those who didn’t.

Hobbies give your brain a break from thinking about work.

4. You will avoid burnout.

Having a hobby gets your mind off work and refreshes it so that you can go back to work the next day with renewed energy and focus. When you’re engaged in a hobby, you’re not constantly rehashing work difficulties or thinking about your Monday morning to-do list, which means you are less likely to burn out and just get to the point where you can’t handle the stress anymore.

5. You will be more productive at work.

This is particularly true for careers in which work you don’t get done during the workday follows you home, like teaching and many salaried positions where you are expected to work until your tasks are completed. When you have something you want to do after you get off work, you are more likely to make sure you get everything done that you need to so that you don’t need to stay late or bring work home.

6. You will have a different perspective.

Having recreational activities changes your perspective about work in a couple of ways. First, you will not see your career as the only important or meaningful activity in your life. Second, you will not see yourself as the only one who can get the job done but will rely more on others to be responsible and reliable while you are investing time in your hobby. These perspective changes are healthy and are yet another way that your hobbies benefit your career.

CCSU offers a series of one-day courses and events under its “life and leisure” section that are designed to foster work-life balance in concrete ways and encourage hobbies. To join the mailing list contact Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.

4 Reasons To Learn Outside Your Comfort Zone!

When continuing your education, the temptation is to build on existing skills and areas of strength, but there are a number of benefits to learning things outside the areas in which you are skilled and trained.

What Science Says About Learning Skills In New Areas

Most people like to operate within their comfort zone, but it’s all too easy to get complacent and begin to make only the minimum effort to get the job done. When you learn a new skill, you can reach a state of what scientists call “optimal anxiety” that actually makes you more productive than when you are operating within your comfort zone.

  1.   Create new neural connections.

Learning a skill outside your comfort zone also creates new neural connections that can help you think and perform better as well as respond better to unexpected happenings and changes. It is important not to push too far out of your comfort zone for too long to avoid getting overwhelmed and actually lowering productivity, but in most cases this will not happen.

This type of learning causes the part of your brain that deals with self-reflective activities like goal-setting, future planning and even daydreaming to be more active. This means that learning skills that make you just a bit uncomfortable can end up changing your life by making you more able to see a successful path forward so you can aim for it.

Other Benefits of Learning Outside Your Comfort Zone

2.   Create less confirmation bias.

Once you get used to being outside your comfort zone, you will find that it has many benefits that science can’t quantify. Those who learn new skills and information tend to have less of a confirmation bias because they have learned to think in new ways and assimilate information that doesn’t fit with what they already think.

3.  Become more creative.

You will be more creative and better at brainstorming when you have learned a wide range of skills including those areas in which you don’t think you are as skilled. The broader your experiences, the more you will be able to think outside the box and offer valuable ideas to your team on a regular basis.

4.  Discover new passions.

Being outside your comfort zone can also be invigorating and exciting, and you can take that increased passion back into your job to improve your performance, take on new responsibilities, or even move up the chain with a promotion.

The more you learn outside your comfort zone, the easier it will be to do so in the future and all of the benefits that come from the act of learning new skills will continue to multiply.

CCSU offers many continuing education courses that can teach you all kinds of skills to push you outside your comfort zone and help you get the benefits that come from this type of continued learning. To join the CCSU mailing list contact Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.