By Gabrielle Karol
NEW YORK (Learnvest) — If you’ve ever been so bored at the office you felt like you were literally watching each second tick by on the clock — we feel you.
Having experienced work-induced, mind-numbing boredom once or twice before, we can easily say feeling busy — or even stressed — is far superior to feeling bored.
But a surprising study from the U.K.’s University of Central Lancashire has shown boredom can have a surprisingly beneficial side effect: increased creativity.
Researchers Dr. Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman found that when people were given boring tasks (such as copying telephone numbers), they displayed an increase in creativity once those tasks were done, due to the fact they were able to daydream while completing those mundane assignments.
In fact, the more boring the activity — for instance, reading aloud numbers from the telephone book rather than writing them — the greater the jump in creativity. This finding would suggest that passive, boring activities such as attending meetings and reading memos may lead to greater creativity due to more opportunities for daydreaming. In comparison, boring activities that demand slightly more activity, such as writing emails or completing administrative tasks, may reduce the chance for daydreaming-induced creativity.
So the next time you catch yourself sitting through yet another meeting with glazed-over eyes, don’t beat yourself up: That daydreaming may actually be quite productive! (As long as you put your creativity to good use, rather than coming up with 15 different ways to organize the paper clips on your desk.)