DRMacIver's Notebook

Questions to Ask When Bored

Questions to Ask When Bored

I was thinking about boredom yesterday and asked about it on Twitter and had a few conversations about it. This caused me to realise that there are really a lot of different things we’re lumping under the heading of boredom, and it might be useful to distinguish them more carefully.

Some of the things we might label as boredom include depression, listlessness, restlessness, fatigue… but rather than trying to put labels on all the different states of being bored I thought it might be useful to narrow it down instead to concrete questions you can ask about the felt sense of the boredom:

These questions are all useful debugging tools for helping understand what’s actually going on, and treating it as a practical problem to solve. Some of them may be hard to solve in the moment (e.g. if you’re exhausted and have no good low energy hobbies it’s probably not the right time to try to think of one), but the information they provide in the moment can be used to solve the problem another time.

In general I find that better introspective understanding also tends to improve my emotional state. Boredom feels bad in part because it signals a poorly understood problem, and getting to the root of what that problem is lessens that feeling.