Dealing with Boredom

There may be times in your life when you have nothing to do or are at a loose end. I had a lot of time like this shortly after I graduated and found myself living in my university town over the summer holidays when there were no buggers about and nothing to do. This was the post web but pre Facebook world too, so there wasn’t quite as much to do online as there is now.

With this in mind, I was inordinately bored at times and therefore faced the challenge of coping with that boredom without going completely insane. I have no idea whether I succeeded or not but here are the results of my efforts.
The key to avoiding boredom is to work on your imagination. You know, that thing you had when you were a kid that meant you found science really tricky as you were staring at Miss Cole and wondering what she looked like topless.

With a well honed imagination you can while away the hours doing things like:

  • imagining new and innovative ways to torture someone you really really don’t like. If it’s tricky, start off with the mundane, a bit of finger breaking or something, then move on cheese graters and other stuff. Get psychological on your victim too, it adds a bit of variety.
  • devising a really cool band name and making yourself the lead singer/guitarist. This also works for kung fu fantasies (like Po’s in Kung Fu Panda), and super hero day dreams. I’ve plotted the success of rock group the Cosmic Troubadours and grind metal band Grisly Minge through the decade, from garage band origins to rock star excess.
  • working out how to spend a really huge lottery win. It’s actually fairly difficult to do it in an imaginative manner. With a £100m+ jackpot I’d have a proper (modernised) castle built, with a moat, drawbridge, murder-holes and a network of secret passageways. But don’t stop there, follow it to the next stage, how would you make sure the secret passages remained secret? Buy the firm of architects? The builders? Or murder and bury everyone involved? it’s the little details that would keep you busy.
  • building a consistent alternative reality. Sci fi authors and fantasy writers do it, give it a go yourself. You’ll need to make sure your fantasy world has a coherent system of magic and you’ll need to ensure that the socio political system has developed in a way that supports this. Likewise with sci fi the science must fit with the world the characters inhabit. Making it all work is time consuming and can also be rewarding, especially if you ever have an inordinate amount of time on your hands and fancy having a go a writing some short stories or even a book.
  • Make up an improbable and fictitious website. I even went as far as to buy the relevant domain name once and ran the Militant Cheese Brigade for a couple of years until it expired. The site got far more traffic than it should have, especially given the background colour was edam yellow.
  • Make something. Seriously, making stuff is a lot more fun than consuming stuff and the kind of things you can make with little or no effort are brilliant. You could make a ceiling cat for your office, a pencil crossbow, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous (but not much more), your own electric guitar.

Of course there will be times when you’re simply stuck somewhere and have nothing to do and nothing with you. I suggest in these situations you practice entering a trance. This is a trick I picked up whilst attending lunch time (non interactive) meetings. Get comfy, relax your shoulders and face muscles, unfocus your gaze and concentrate on your breathing. Put all thoughts from your mind, breath in through your mouth and out through your nose. Sooner or later you’ll be in a light trance.

If all else fails, find something horribly addictive to play. Farmville if you’re not a gamer, World of Warcraft if you’ve got an internet connection or Football Manager if you haven’t. If you don’t die of malnourishment, you’ll at least see the hours fly past. If you can’t stomach computer games, masturbation is probably the last resort…


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