Does Rest Really Make Us More Productive?

There are several kinds of rest and we need all of them at different times:

1.    Physical rest:

Getting enough sleep at night, and the occasional nap rests our bodies and helps our brain to move what we learn during the day into long-term memory. Gentle exercises such as yoga and stretching helps to restore circulation, maintain flexibility and prevent the kinds of aches and pains that come from sitting down all day or bending over our books and keyboards.

2.    Mental rest:

We need short breaks within the school day (recess, lunch and breaks between homework tasks) as well as longer breaks such as school holidays to rest from the rigid rhythms of the school term.

3.    Sensory rest:

Intentional time away from screens, constant noise and the multitude of in-person (and online) conversations that surround us to counteract the exhaustion of overstimulation.

4.    Creative rest:

Taking in the beauty and intricacy of the natural world, enjoying books, films and music for art’s sake, nurturing the hobbies that spark our creativity.

Many of us view rest as a good thing, something to be sought and enjoyed. However, we often villainise boredom, thinking of it as bad and unproductive, something to be avoided at all costs.

Can anything good come from boredom?

Heading into Term 2 and breaking out the cardigans, blazers and school-coloured scarves and gloves once again, we’re reminded that just as nature curls in on itself and hibernates, rest is built into human nature.

While talking about productivity hacks and organisational systems is necessary and beneficial, we mustn’t forget that the purpose of these tools is to help us do the work we need to do. There are no shortcuts for hard work.

However, it might surprise you that, just as the most beautiful spring flowers bloom after a cold winter, so too our best ideas and insights come after a period of incubation.

Boredom is brilliant!

To clarify, when I say ‘boredom’, I don’t mean drowning our creativity in consumption, or, in the words of Neil Postman, ‘amusing ourselves to death.’ Postman’s point was that western society’s addiction to electronic entertainment – TV, Netflix, social media – monopolizes our attention and diverts us from developing original and innovative ideas.

The beneficial boredom I’m talking about occurs when we put aside our entertainment options and open up space for our thoughts to run wild.

How can we get excited about anything if we’re never bored?

If we never experience a sense of lack, or something missing, how are we be inspired to innovate?

From this place of boredom, our passions are nurtured and take shape because we’ve given ourselves time for research, to find out everything we can about something that interests is. Boredom moves us to creativity.

(Photo by Kevin Jarrett on Unsplash)

Productive boredom looks like…

For most of us, we have to turn off the internet or our phones and get outside to move away from the endless array of digital entertainment at our fingertips. Once you’ve opened up space for boredom, here are some ideas of what productive boredom might look like for you:

  • In less than an hour, you could do some gardening, walk a familiar route, swim a few laps, or just sit for a few minutes with your eyes closed, drawing your attention to the sounds around you or listening to some peaceful ASMR tones to draw your attention to your breathing and your posture.
  • If you’ve got more time on your hands, you could visit an art gallery or a museum, go for a bush walk, explore the city, set off on a road trip, or go camping.

(Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash)

As many creatives know, great ideas come at idle times such as in the shower, while driving or taking a long walk because our mind is in a state of relaxation and peaceful indifference. Imagination or daydreaming is just like dreaming while you’re asleep; the brain, or the unconscious mind, takes your recent thoughts and experiences and puts them together in new way, leading to new ideas and insights.

The important thing is not to fill up all your free time with activities to keep boredom at bay. Boredom is not always the enemy. From the state of restlessness that boredom brings, we start searching. We look beyond the mundane for new challenges and possibilities.

Rhythms of productivity and rest

Just as nature has times of busy productivity and times of quiet rest, our students need the same. Parts of our school journey will be busy, full of assessments to hand in and concepts to learn. Other parts of the school year, holidays in particular, are a time for slowing. In these times we might do some work (especially if you’re a HSC or IB student) but we need to prioritise rest so that our minds have a chance to recuperate, make connections, solidify knowledge and develop new ideas.

Numerous studies show that boredom facilitates creativity and prosocial behaviour such as compassion for others and ourselves. Just as boredom gives our minds the space to be creative and the rest we need to fuel our productivity, it also facilitates self-awareness. Unpressured time focused on ourselves and our emotional state can alert us to problems such as being under slept, over-committed to co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, or be a sign that we need help with a particular subject or project. Tutoring can provide that much needed motivation and inspiration to start an assignment or persevere with a challenging subject and a tutor can also give helpful advice and practical guidance for how to balance school and life.

A proactive response

Boredom is a transitory state; it’s meant to be temporary. If your child is constantly complaining of boredom, it’s time to work with them to find an exciting challenge that’s driven by their passions.

If your child is bored with learning, now is the time to Contact Us and enlist one of our experienced tutors to help your child to break through the rut and invigorate their desire to learn and grow. Prolonged boredom needs to be addressed sooner than later as a student’s unmet need for intellectual stimulation can lead to apathy.

Rather than continue the revolving argument about your child’s declining effort grades or less-than-glowing feedback from their teachers, let Nepean Tutoring focus on your child’s engagement and their interests. We pride ourselves on putting your child before the curriculum, and it works! The results of our student-centred approach include not only improved grades and deeper knowledge; our students are more independent, self-motivated, self-aware and passionate learners, prepared and confident for life after school.

Are you ready to see the difference that a dedicated tutor can make to your child’s learning? Contact Us today to secure one of our expert tutors for Term 2.