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

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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 rethink our gadget use to live better and smarter in this new digital ecosystem. Manoush explains the connection between boredom and original thinking, exploring how we can harness boredom’s hidden benefits to become our most productive and creative selves without totally abandoning our gadgets in the process.
Grounding the book in the neuroscience and cognitive psychology of “mind wandering”—what our brains do when we’re doing nothing at all—Manoush includes practical steps you can take to ease the nonstop busyness and enhance your ability to dream, wonder, and gain clarity in your work and life. The outcome is mind-blowing. Unplug and read on.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published September 5, 2017

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About the author

Manoush Zomorodi

4 books136 followers
Manoush Zomorodi is the incoming host of NPR’s TED Radio Hour and co-founder of Stable Genius Productions. She is also the co-host and co-creator of ZigZag, the business podcast about being human.

Investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity is Manoush’s passion and expertise. Her book Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Creative Self (2017, St. Martin’s Press) and TED Talk (3.3m+ views) are guides to surviving the “Attention Economy.” She was one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2018. Manoush created and hosted the podcast Note to Self from 2013-2019, in partnership with WNYC Studios. The Academy of Podcasters named Note to Self Best Tech Podcast of 2017. Manoush has received numerous awards for her work, including The Gracie in 2014 and 2018 for Best Radio Host.
She is half-Persian and half-Swiss but was born in NYC, where she lives with her family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 615 reviews
Profile Image for Lynn.
244 reviews41 followers
September 8, 2017
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 can choose not to turn to social media, and instead think creatively, These two things are not the same. There are many brilliant academics who write on these topics much more succinctly, I found Manoush Zomorodi's musings watered down and sometimes inaccurate.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,385 followers
January 5, 2018
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 course of the day. I found nothing of interest in this book for me and, whilst well written, this was, sadly, not for me.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Manoush Zomorodi, and the publisher, Macmillan, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Janelle.
271 reviews17 followers
August 15, 2017
“...mobile 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 us occupied, and it's rarely farther than a pocket. According to Manoush Zomorodi, host of NPR’s Note to Self program, that’s a problem.

In 2015, Note to Self launched a week-long project to promote boredom. Through a series of challenges, Bored and Brilliant participants were encouraged to think through how, when, and why they engage with technology. This book emerged from that project, giving Zomorodi a chance not only to talk about the outcomes of the project itself, but also some of the rationale behind each component challenge. She interviews scientists and laypersons along the way.

But why boredom? Isn’t it *good* that we can use these otherwise unproductive three minutes at Starbucks to touch base with a friend on Facebook? What else would we possibly do with that time?

Zomorodi argues that the cumulative effect of all these check-ins cost us creativity and introspection. The brain desperately needs to these unoccupied moments to tie disparate parts of our lived experience together in new and creative ways. The wandering mind moves backward and forward, updating your narrative of self and the world around you. Every time you fire up Candy Crush, you’re unconsciously choosing not to let your mind wander.

Zomorodi works hard to present the scientific evidence for this view and to keep it morally neutral--she frequently mentions her own addiction to an online game as evidence that she suffers along with the rest of us--but it’s not hard to see that some readers are going to be defensive about this notion.

The portion of the book that spoke to me loudest was a passage in which Zomorodi interviews a couple of college professors who bemoan how their students prefer to communicate via text rather than office hours. A student points out that a text or email allows her to choose her words in advance, so as not to say the wrong thing. One of the professors points out that makes her own job harder. If a student asks a precise question over text/email, the professor can only answer the question posed. A student who stumbles through an idea verbally, who makes mistakes and corrects herself as she goes along, who leaves openings where the professor might probe further or reframe portions of the question… this is how academic inquiry and discovery happen best. Yes, it’s messier, but it’s also more likely to engage the student.

“...perhaps our biggest loss is that of patience. Patience to let someone finish an imperfect thought; patience to read a dense paragraph not once, twice, but three times to understand an intricate point; patience to let a simple thought that crosses your mind grow into a mediocre concept and only then blossom into an outstanding idea. These things take time. And the one thing our phones can’t give us is more hours in the day.”

In describing the premise of the book to a co-worker, she pointed out that distraction has always been with us. Forty years ago, the commuter train car might have been full of folks reading a paper rather than their cell phones. She’s right: screens are a new iteration of an old habit. There was no magical past in which strangers were happy and willing to engage with one another on the morning commute that has now been taken from us by smartphones.

However, Zomorodi isn’t anti-technology. She hasn’t chucked her iPhone into the East River, and she’s not inciting us to rise up in revolution against our electronic masters. Instead, she’s arguing that a healthier relationship with our phones will open up more space in our lives for creative thinking.

You can check out the original Bored and Brilliant project challenges online.

I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley.

For further reading about the merits of distraction-free work, I recommend Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

If you’re a parent, you might be interested in an internet movement to ask parents to commit to not buying smartphones for a child until 8th grade.
Profile Image for الزهراء الصلاحي.
1,346 reviews379 followers
February 20, 2021
"عندما نسمح لأنفسنا بالشرود ولأذهاننا بالتوهان، فإننا نفكر ونحل المشاكل بطريقة مثلى وهكذا يسافر عقلنا إلى بعض الأماكن الشيقة وغير المتوقعة من دون اضطراب. أما الإبداع -بغض النظر عن تعريفك أو تطبيقك له- فهو يحتاج إلى التحفيز والملل، الذي بدوره يسمح بتكوين ارتباطات جديدة ومختلفة في دماغنا وهو التأمل الأكثر فعالية. إنه ما تطلق عليه عالمة المستقبليات ريتا كينغ ب"الملل الإبداعي".
هذا الكتاب ليس كتاب تنمية ذاتية كما يمكن أن يتبادر إلى ذهن البعض، ولكنه كتاب يتحدث عن موضوع هام جداً خاصة مع التطور التكنولوجي الرهيب الذي أصبحنا نعيشه الآن، فهو يتحدث عن الجانب السلبي للتكنولوجيا.

الكتاب عبارة عن تحدي من سبع مراحل قامت به الكاتبة مع أصدقائها لتقليل تأثير التكنولوجيا على حياتهم ووضعت هذه المراحل والأفكار والتعليقات الخاصة به في هذا الكتاب.

الكتاب يتحدث عن استعباد أجهزتنا الإلكترونية لنا!
من منا يستطيع أن يجلس 15 دقيقة بدون أن يتفحص هاتفه، هل وصلته رسالة جديدة؟ هل فاته حدث رهيب سيؤدي إلى تغيير العالم في هذه الدقائق؟!

يتحدث عن تأثير الإشعارات التي تصلنا على مدار الساعة من كل المواقع والتطبيقات وما تسببه من توتر وتشتت قد يصل بالبعض إلى فقد السيطرة على ذاته وإدمانها!

نعم، هذا نوع من الإدمان لا يختلف كثيراً عن أنواع الإدمان الأخرى.
إدمان لا بد من تحديد أسبابه وطرق علاجة والبدء في تنفيذها.

أنا مهتمة بهذا الموضوع منذ مدة طويلة، وأبحث عن الكتب والمقالات والأفلام الوثائقية وكل ما يتعلق به.
ومن الخطوات الإيجابية التي قمت بتنفيذها منذ ما يقارب العامين هو إغلاق إشعارات جميع البرامج والتطبيقات على هاتفي، وترك التطبيق الوحيد الذي احتاجة في الدراسة والعمل.
وأيضاً أخذ فترات راحة من السوشيال ميديا قد تصل إلى شهرين كل عام، ومع التكرار اكتشفت أن هذه الفترة تكون أكثر إنتاجية وراحة وهدوء. مع العلم أن تواجدي على السوشيال ميديا يكاد يكون معدوم في الأساس!

الكتاب جيد وسيكون مفيد لمن يعاني من هذه المشكلة وأيضاً لمن لا يعاني منها سيكون إضافة لمعلوماته حول هذا الموضوع.

١٩ فبراير ٢٠٢١
Profile Image for Jane.
1,996 reviews30 followers
August 11, 2017
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 others, so I am actually not her primary audience. Still, even I found some of her seven challenges (to change your relationship with your phone and increase your productivity and creativity) of interest. Most of them are not a challenge for me (keep your device out of reach while in motion – already do that; have a photo free day – most of my days are photo free, etc.). But I certainly waste time on the internet on my laptop, if not my smartphone.

I found myself wanting to quote long passages of the book because they match my own experiences so well. For example,

“In a study from 2014 called the iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interaction in the Presence of Mobile Devices, researchers at Virginia Tech found that the mere presence of a mobile device, even just lying there, seemingly benign on the kitchen counter, can lower the empathy exchanged between two friends.” (p. 56)


“This isn’t just a productivity or focus issue. [Gloria] Mark’s lab has found that the more people switch their attention, the higher their stress level. That is especially concerning, she says, because the modern workplace feeds on interruptions.” (p. 89)

The text was engaging and the research cited compelling. If you would like to decrease the amount of time you waste on your smartphone (or laptop), you might find this short and easy to read book of interest.

I read an advance reader copy of Bored But Brilliant. It will be published in early September.
Profile Image for Leen.
47 reviews16 followers
December 27, 2018
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.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
692 reviews850 followers
June 16, 2018
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 to let my mind wander. I do know for a fact that I have gotten insights and ideas on how to write some of the more difficult book reviews (for eg. Malazan) while I was out running without my phone.

I won't call this book exceptionally ground-breaking or enlightening, but it is engaging and informative. It is also not anti-technology but rather enabling technology to help us get the most out of our modern hectic life. Self-awareness is the first step to taking a good look at one's gadget use and next is the will to break those less desirable habits, where possible.

I will leave with the TED talk link below for a briefer take on the Bored and Brilliant project.
Profile Image for B.J. Richardson.
Author 2 books69 followers
November 2, 2018
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 challenges to help reduce their phone time and be more purposeful and aware of why and how often it is being used.

The seven challenges in the Bored and Brilliant program are:
1) Observe yourself. Record exactly how many times you pick up your phone and how many minutes you spend on it.
2) Keep your device out of reach while in motion.
3) No photos today.
4) Delete your most addictive app.
5) Take a fakecation.
6) Observe Something else.
7) Decide on a permanent change resulting from your observations during the first 6 challenges.

According to the author, this challenge ended up having a much larger reach and enthusiastic level of participation than expected and this book was really a product of what came out of that challenge. Most of the chapters in the book are a detailed look at each challenge. They will combine personal insights, interviews, research (lite) and testimonials from those who participated. This book is neither profound nor scholarly. It isn't meant to be.

From my perspective, the book has two aims: 1) To get people to participate in the Bored and Brilliant challenge and 2) To help them be more aware of their addiction to social media and then do something about it. For me, in both these goals, the book was mildly successful. I personally think many of the poor reviews it has garnished are really a result of people getting a little uncomfortable with a truth that hits too close to home.

I do have 10 Reasons to Delete Social Media by Jaron Lanier in my TBR and do expect it to be a much better book covering a similar topic. For now, however, I will definitely recommend this book and am glad I read it. My "clanmates" on Vikings might not be happy I disappeared but I appreciate the time and freedom it has opened up.
Profile Image for Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer.
622 reviews30 followers
July 28, 2020
We spent our time wrong. How long do you spend time on your phone? - It’s actually not bad to use games for relaxation or do some research by using our phone. Generally spoken, we can be brilliant but we should be using technology wisely.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,205 followers
December 15, 2017
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 such a game. There are mini challenges throughout, meant to encourage finding ways to "get bored."

The audiobook is read by the author, and it's no surprise she's great. It's fabulous to listen to a self-help/creative/business-y book written by and read by a woman of color. It's not some Silicon Valley, young white guy who has all of the answers. It's much more real and, for me, applicable.

I also just agree with the premise of needing quiet, boring time in order to be our best, most creative selves. And oh, how I loathe spending time with people who never get off their damn phones. Why am I with you if your face is glued to a screen?

But then again, I don't feel the compulsion to do that, and it's worthwhile to read this one and consider why it is a. other people do and b. why I react how I do.
Profile Image for Katie.
366 reviews3 followers
January 31, 2018
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 research on boredom and why a bit of mind-wandering is good for you. After that, the author structures chapters around more particular distractions and technological concerns - compulsive photo-taking, video games, etc. Her radio background shows through; every chapter centers on a few interviews, brushing over academic research, testimonials and the author's own personal anecdotes. I had hoped for a bit more of an in-depth discussion of the research, so in places it felt a bit shallow to me.

The experiments at the end of each chapter were interesting. I particularly liked the one about not using one's phone while in transit, and the one about making observations in public instead of looking at one's phone. I also deleted Twitter and Sudoku off my phone - I'll admit to having a bit of withdrawal! Overall, definitely a worthwhile read on a topic I'll be thinking more about.
Profile Image for Jess Macallan.
Author 3 books110 followers
July 28, 2017
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 execute. I'm not as addicted to certain features of my phone, so it wasn't hard to delete overused apps and refrain from taking pictures for a day. It was more difficult to acknowledge how many times I mindlessly check my phone in a day. Let's just say it's a lot of wasted time, and I don't have a good reason for it.

This book offers a lot of food for thought, and anyone who uses a smartphone should read it, if for no other reason than to gain a little perspective about putting the phone or tablet down more often and reconnecting with what really matters.
Profile Image for Yousef khaled.
9 reviews4 followers
November 7, 2020
يشير الكاتب ان من سلبيات التكنولوجيا أنها اكبر مصدر تشتيت للانتباه حتى الان في جميع الاوقات ويلهيك عن الملل والتفكر اللذان بدورهما يدلانك الى ان هذه اللحظة لخيالك ولابداعك ولهويتك للوصول لعملية الابداع، كما يدلك انه قد حان الوقت انتضع هاتفك المحمول جانبا وترفع رأسك الى العالم الشاسع، ووضع مشروع تحدي من سبع مراحل لترك هذه العادات، انا من رأيي الشخصي الكتاب جميل الى حد ما لكن كان بإمكان الكاتب اختصاره بعدد اقل من الصفحات .
Profile Image for Emily.
61 reviews3 followers
January 20, 2020
This is basically a book version of the challenge that they did on the Note To Self radio show a few years ago. It was fun to listen to it again in a different form and very pleasant to listen to because the author’s voice is amazing. Lots of great ideas about using technology in a more meaningful way and the power of letting yourself be bored once in a while.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
778 reviews42 followers
January 8, 2018
Manoush Zomorodi presents some insights into the ways modern life short-circuits creativity, as well as concrete steps to take to enhance creative energy by allowing boredom into our lives. I borrowed this one from the library, but I think I'll want my own copy eventually so I can try out her week of exercises for disconnecting and getting used to boredom.
Profile Image for Glenn.
94 reviews5 followers
June 28, 2018
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.
4 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2019
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.
11 reviews
March 11, 2020
While I think this book has some interesting ideas and small exercises I'm not sure if it really teaches the tools that it needs to in order to make a lasting change. Overall can give you an opportunity to give your own use of technology a second look.
Profile Image for SundayAtDusk.
662 reviews23 followers
July 17, 2017
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 lived without. She is simply encouraging tighter control over using them, and encourages paying more attention to how much time you spend using them.

Ms. Zomorodi conducted a Bored and Brilliant experiment in 2015 with the radio listeners of her WNYC podcast Note To Self. This book concentrates on that experiment and includes comments from some of the participants of the experiment. Overall this is a noteworthy read, but not that noteworthy. Nothing the author or the participants say seems like anything new about modern day technology. It’s all been said before, it’s all been noted before. Maybe if you are someone who really does need to reduce the time you spend every day looking at one screen or another, this book will be useful to you. For me, it was just another sad look at those who actually think they can’t live without their cell phones, except for very short periods of time; where those very short periods of time are seen as huge accomplishments.

(Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)
29 reviews2 followers
March 15, 2022
I had misunderstood; this is about creating the space to be bored rather than, I don't know, tips on effective boredom. Still very good, but more of a repetition of concepts I've read recently in The Organized Mind and Digital Minimalism than anticipated. But that's a good thing - rather than recommend those (700 combined pages by university professors) to folks, I can recommend this 181-pager by a radio host, and offer the others as 'further reading.'

Similarly, criticisms of Newport's work premised on the fact that he's got the apparently white male privilege of being able to disconnect from his phone or social media feel disingenuous. That shot in that context always smacked of an addict's easy excuse to ignore his writing. Zomorodi presents many of the same points, similarly backed by science, in the voice of a woman of colour. The conclusions are the same: our entirely uninhibited, constant use of technology is bad for us, but a healthy relationship to these incredible tools is entirely possible, and will lead to a more satisfying and creative life.
Profile Image for Rosemary Rey.
Author 12 books212 followers
November 2, 2017
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 exam before smartphones. But when it comes to writing my fiction or paying bills, I'd rather scroll through Instagram, post pics, and Twitter-review TV shows. There were some good tips in this book on disconnecting and allowing your mind to be still to not be "on" and working--or worse, addicted to games, etc. For people who like to read non-fiction self help books, I recommend this book. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
2 reviews
December 23, 2018
Although interesting, shallow. I felt like this book was a collection of quotes from other authors on the topic of attention and phone usage. Therefore, this book doesn't feel like a cohesive unit, rather, a bunch of ideas which were superficially explored. For example, she mentions Cal Newport's work on "Deep Work" for a page, but his ideas are much more complex than that. And the reason for that quote, was simply to list another effect of phones on how we think.

I think my low rating on the book mainly comes from the break in expectation I got from the title. I imagined it to be a study/experiment on innovative ideas and boredom, much like Angela Duckworth's book on grit; and not a manual for decreasing phone usage. Manoush is a good writer, but I wish she stayed true to her title and was a little more focused on the main topic.
Profile Image for Rissie.
542 reviews53 followers
November 6, 2017
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, but I take issue with the first. Just setting your phone aside does not mean that you are sitting there doing nothing. You may pick up a magazine, or do some yard work, or meet a friend. I think our willingness to *let* ourselves be truly bored goes far beyond phone usage.

Profile Image for Kaytee Cobb.
1,767 reviews329 followers
December 21, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Keely.
756 reviews10 followers
March 29, 2019
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 same challenges to readers, along with past participants’ responses to them. The challenges include taking a photo-free day, deleting a must-have app, putting devices out of sight during work or conversation times, putting time limits on game play, and setting goals to reduce the number of phone pickups during the day.

I found this book highly compelling and was gratified to learn that there is a lot of evidence to support what I had suspected—that technology was interfering with my powers of attention and focus and detracting from both my work and my relationships. I had started cutting back my phone usage (especially social media) before coming to this book, and I’ve been happier and more focused as a result. Still, I gained lots of good practical advice from reading “Bored and Brilliant.” One of my favorite tips was to make myself complete some kind of assignment before checking my work email in the morning. That’s a practice I’ll be keeping—along with the overarching idea that the less time I spend on my phone, the more effective I’ll be at work, the more time I’ll have to pursue other interests, and the closer I’ll be to the people I care about.
Profile Image for Shan.
577 reviews31 followers
October 3, 2017
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 ideas in this book, but the book pulls it all together, along with the evidence underlying each aspect of the program, and comments from podcast listeners who did the challenges in 2015.

I haven't done the challenges yet but just listening to the audiobook has made me more aware of when I'm tempted to pull out the phone to counter the agony of waiting thirty seconds for the light to turn green or for my dining companion to come back from the restroom. It's also made me think about all the other ways I've found to fill my attention so I never have to just be in my own head: I always have a book with me, I listen to NPR and podcasts while driving or walking the dogs, I watch movies while doing chores. Not to mention the puzzles and games I do while watching tv, just in case there might be a spare chunk of unoccupied brain.

The author recommends reading the whole book first, then going back and doing the challenges. Tip: if you're listening to the audiobook, make sure to bookmark the challenges as you go along. I didn't; I was painting a room while listening to it, meaning I'm pretty much going to have to listen to the whole thing again to find them. It's okay. It will do me good.

Oh, and there's some surprising information here, too. Like, the link between meditation and creativity. Which isn't what I thought it was.
Profile Image for B.P..
153 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2018
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 my mind with time and space to consider what is important to me and rethink how I should spend my time. (hint: more reading of books!)
p.s. I have noticed some reviewers are critical of this book because it is a bit light in the way of proper research. I acknowledge that, but I gave it a high rating because it scared me into action.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books61 followers
February 15, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Kathy Heare Watts.
5,657 reviews177 followers
September 4, 2018
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.
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