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Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self
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Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,803 ratings  ·  459 reviews
It’s time to move “doing nothing” to the top of your to-do list.
In 2015, Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC’s popular podcast and radio show 'Note To Self' led tens of thousands of listeners through an experiment to help them unplug from their devices, get bored, jumpstart their creativity, and change their lives. Bored and Brilliant builds on that experiment to show us how to
Hardcover, First edition , 192 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by St. Martin's Press
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Jordan Think of watching a movie before reading a book. A lot of the insight is the same but more in depth. I found this book to be a great aide to listening…moreThink of watching a movie before reading a book. A lot of the insight is the same but more in depth. I found this book to be a great aide to listening to the podcast. If you are anything like my you may have been doing something else while listening to the podcast, so I noted that I missed a lot when I read this. (less)

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Sep 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. The premise is that we can be more creative if we stop turning to social media when we are bored. The book was simplistic, poorly researched, and included no reference section, Even worse, the author, a "podcaster", reported her online project as if it was an experiment which it clearly is not. I also found the title to be a misnomer. The title implies that if you are bored you can be creative and brilliant. In fact, what the author means is that if you are bored, you ...more
Dannii Elle
I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't this. I can appreciate how this book would be invaluable to some readers but don't believe I was exactly the right audience. I believed this would deliver advice on creativity and the cultivation of it in life. Instead this was a guide on how to rely less on the distraction of your smart phone. Whilst I can see the benefit of this book I found this not to be an issue I had as I already restrict my social media and smart phone usage, throughout the ...more
I am very interested in the topic of phone use and overuse. I am not anti-technology (and neither is the author of this book), but I do find the overuse of phones by much of American society alarming. Zomorodi was definitely preaching to the choir with me as a reader.

Zomorodi includes research to back up the idea that we are more creative when we allow ourselves to be “bored” and allow our minds to wander. I do not carry my smartphone around in my hand and it is seldom in view when I am out with
“ consumers now spend an average of two hours and fifty-seven minutes each day on mobile devices.”

Waiting in line to check out? Fire up Candy Crush.

On your commute? Get caught up on blogs or YouTube vids.

One laaaast round of checks on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter before the theater darkens for the movie previews. (And then another check when the lights come up to catch what you missed.)

We have the option to never, ever be bored. There’s always something, somewhere willing to keep
TS Chan
3.5 stars.

Being very aware of how smartphones have taken over a very significant part of our lives, I do mindfully keep my phone out of sight when I am moving about and especially while having meals with friends and family. This is an era of too many distractions and too much information. How much can our minds really absorb and process, and how often do we really actively observe. While I am not sure if being bored can necessarily make me 'brilliant', I am a proponent of having time and space
This gave me so much food for thought about why I have the relationship I have with my technology and the ways I can consider being more conscious of that. This isn't anti-tech, and Manoush does a great job of giving insight into both sides of the coin -- she, for example, found herself addicted to Two Dots and wondered why, so she explored why it was a problem for her, as well as interviewed one of the creators of the game and how the "addictive" mentality could be mined to suck people into ...more
Jess Macallan
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiration
I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was interested in the premise of this book--the idea that by unplugging and purposefully allowing ourselves to be bored, we could benefit creatively and in other ways. I enjoyed the information--both studies and interviews with experts--that outlined our need for and addiction to technology, specifically our smartphones. I did the challenges outlined in the book, which sound surprisingly easy but was harder to
Dec 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Basically take some time and unplug from technology so your brain can process life and think. That is it. She uses a lot of other researchers work which leads you wondering what her input really was other that repeating the same concept over and over again. I honestly thought I'm repeating chapters by mistake multiple times throughout the book, but nope I wasn't! Not worth the time spent on.
B.J. Richardson
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was actually pleasantly surprised by this book. Almost immediately I realized that it wasn't exactly what the title advertised. I was expecting a work on the connection between boredom and creativity. while that was certainly there, this book is much more about being more self-aware with our use of cell phones and social media. The title actually came from a project (social experiment?) the author did on her NYPR program, Note to Self, where for a week her listeners took on a series of ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I actually finished this book a few days ago because I hadn't yet completed the last task, but the library wants it back, so!

I forget what made me put this on hold at the library. But as someone who used to be a non-stop daydreamer and is now a constant phone-gazer, the idea was inherently sort of interesting to me: that keeping our brains busy with tech at every waking hour decreases our ability to think creatively, problem-solve, and generally function.

The start of the book summarizes the
Emily Horne
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a helpful thought experiment and guide to regulating your technology use. While most of us have vague feelings we use our phones too much, this book offered research and concrete ways to evaluate your tech usage and turn it into something that is useful for you. Must read in this digital age.
This book is an interesting and concise look at how technology, particularly cell phone usage, is greatly reducing the amount of time one’s wandering mind is daydreaming, coming up with highly creative ideas and “autobiographical planning”. If you’re doing stuff on your cell phone all the time, your mind can’t wander. Not good. Don’t imagine this is an anti-tech book, however. It most certainly is not. Manoush Zomorodi is obviously a person who thinks cell phones are here to stay and can’t be ...more
Rosemary Rey
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I've been interested in figuring out how to focus and minimize the distractions that block me from my writing. I started out reading another book about deep focus and the ways to work without distraction. Both this book, Bored and Brilliant, and the other had one thing in common, technology. The cause of our problems is the enhanced technology we have access to. I didn't have a problem writing a paper in 1992 before the internet was introduced to me. I didn't have a problem studying for the Bar ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-overdrive
I'm so glad I have this book in my collection. It's a great reminder to take time to foster my creativity by not trying to fill every free moment with with some kind of distraction/entertainment. I've done the challenges and have really liked the changes. If you haven't read this book, it's definitely worth your time. It's an engaging and interesting book you won't regret reading.
Kaytee Cobb
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library
well researched and put together, convincing evidence for not letting our devices rule our lives. definitely interested in learning more about my phone usage especially and how to fully tune in in a world filled with digital distraction. heard about this one on the By the Book podcast.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
In “Bored and Brilliant,” Manoush Zomorodi examines the extent to which smart devices and other technology interfere with the “default mode” spacing-out time our minds need in order to be their most productive and creative. The book is based on the “Bored and Brilliant” challenges she undertook along with her podcast listeners in 2015, and incorporates input from experts in software engineering, gaming, psychology, and other relevant fields of study. At the end of chapters, Zomorodi offers the ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a simple, friendly book whose premise is that your life can be better if you give yourself a chance to get bored and do some daydreaming. In other words, put your phone away. It offers a week-long series of challenges, one per day, beginning with monitoring your baseline behavior and ending with a capstone exercise in which you use your newfound powers to make sense of your life and set goals.

I recently started listening to the author's Note to Self podcast, which discusses a lot of the
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an excellent impetus for me to interrogate my relationship with my phone and other screens. I was able to critically reflect on how addicted I was/am to particular apps and technologies. I tried some of the challenges in the book designed to detach you from your phone baby. Very liberating. The point of the book is that we need to be bored (without stimulus) in order to generate ideas and solve problems. Learning to be away from my phone longer has lessened my anxiety and provided ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I heard this author interviewed by Brooke Gladstone on her On the Media, and decided to read it. I don't normally read "self help" books, but I think this is a good project that does not make over-blown claims. The book is built around a 7-step challenge to help people stop relying on their phones to kill time or get affirmation in daily life. She adds weight to the argument by referring to studies by various scholars who focus on social media, attention, as well as business "mindfulness gurus" ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book came along at just the right time when I needed to take a break from all the negative news on social media. There are some excellent, practical solutions to help you limit, or break away from, your device, and I fully intend to use the challenges to help make some regular habits.
Kathy Heare Watts
I won an advanced reading copy of this book during a Goodreads giveaway. I am under no obligation to leave a review or rating and do so voluntarily. So that others may also enjoy this book, I am paying it forward by donating it to my local library.
Lisa of Hopewell
Jun 21, 2018 marked it as to-read
I learned of this book from this blog post
Ash Wilson
To clear things up right from to git-go, this book stated several times throughout that it is NOT an anti-technology book, and it wasn’t. In fact, it often discusses how advances in technology greatly benefit our day to day lives and general being. I think it was all about coming down to balance & how we need to check / police ourselves more with how much we let various forms of technology really control our lives altogether, particularly our brains, ability to learn, read, listen, make ...more
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
When very bored, your brain apparently goes into a "default mode" - that is when creativity and productivity is at it's best. The premise of this statement is that if you are not otherwise distracted, you can think more clearly (obviously) however, according to the study by Manoush Zomorodi, people nowadays are NEVER not distracted, primarily by their cell phones and other devices.
In fact, she states that the only businesses that refer to their customers as "users" are technolgy /software
Heather Conkin
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! So timely. It reminded me of Cal Newport's most recent book, Deep Work except much more light hearted. I love Manoush's podcast Note to Self and this was a great extension of her work there.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
i went into this book with pretty heavy biases against the premise so it is hard for me to review it fairly. that being said, there are some things that jumped out at me that i thought were really ineffective for her thesis and general argument. the first was her overuse of her personal narrative and testimony with 2 dots. all this did was make me want to go download a game i had never heard of and play it. i don’t even play games. i understand it is her right to share her story an struggles ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book that talks about the problems with our cell phone addiction. Manoush Zomorodi has a podcast where she talks about the intersection of technology and human behavior. She offers a phone detox plan and goes into detail about the research behind each step. I wasn't surprised to hear about how crazy we are about our phones -- but I was disappointed to know that even for those who follow every single step of Zamorodi's detox plan perfectly, the average cell phone use only goes down by ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I read (listened to) this book, because I was trying to limit my phone usage. I was noticing that I picked it up a LOT, even when I didn't need to, or even want to. In that regard, this book was very helpful. It gave suggestions and challenges that helped me to use my phone more mindfully.

After that, much of the advice in this book is based on two assumptions ...
1. If you do not use your smartphone, you will be bored.
2. If you are bored, you will come up with great ideas.
The latter may be true,
In a nutshell, the argument is about how putting away one’s smartphone and unplugging from social media can heighten one’s creative potential. This book falls into the category of a blogger/podcaster doing some crafted study and then reporting on the experience. It would have been more suited to a long article than a whole book—and I didn’t find the premises or conclusions terribly enlightening or convincing.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
The title of this is somewhat misleading. I was expecting that it would be more about harnessing the times when your mind wanders and learning how to convert that into something useful and creative, but instead this book is more about learning to use your cell phone less often. I mean, everyone uses technology as a crutch these days, but it's not a massive concern of mine.
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MANOUSH ZOMORODI is the host and managing editor of "Note to Self," “the tech show about being human,” from WNYC Studios. Every week on her podcast, Manoush searches for answers to life’s digital quandaries through experiments and conversations with listeners and experts. She has won numerous awards for her work including four from the New York Press Club. In 2014, the Alliance for Women in Media ...more
“Boredom is the gateway to mind-wandering, which helps our brains create those new connections that can solve anything from planning dinner to a breakthrough in combating global warming.” 3 likes
“to think original thoughts, we must put a stop to constant stimulation.” 2 likes
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