Book Review - Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self

I definitely recommend Manoush Zomorodi’s book. It’s a fast and easy read, full of actionable tips and thought-provoking insights. Here’s my review, using the Five Big Questions™.

1. What makes this writing good?

Ms. Zomorodi has a terrific voice. Her writing is conversational and friendly, with lots of funny asides that ensure you know she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She freely admits her own foibles, like her addiction to Two Dots, so she’s a relatable guide through the content. The amount of research she cites and experts she talks to raises the book’s authority and trustworthiness. She uses mix of experience (hers and those in her radio audience) and science gives us lots of reasons to keep reading. I also appreciated how she explained how our the apps on our devices are purpose-built to be addictive (and supports that by talking to developers who confirm it). She doesn’t peg anyone as evil, but rather points out that’s the business model – and then she keeps offering ways for us to break the habit. And unlike a lot of advice or self-help books, this one doesn’t moralize or make you feel bad. It’s positive, realistic and motivational. I read this on my iPad and the formatting was terrific, which isn’t always the case with e-books.

2. What would make this writing better?

I understand why she had so lots of quotes from people who participated in the activities. They show that other people have tried this – that some were completely successful and that even those who weren’t experienced benefit. But I did get a little tired of the testimonials about halfway through. The good thing is, the organization of the book is terrific, and these little testimonials are all in one place at the end of the chapter, so they don’t interrupt your flow and are easily skipped if you don’t want to read them.

3. What’s the one most important thing the writer wants you to know?

The big take-away (for me anyway) is that we can have a healthier relationship with our devices, our selves and our friends and family. Her point is that devices enable us to easily occupy ourselves while waiting in line, exercising or whatever, and that never gives our minds a break to daydream, wonder, or just rest. Yet science has shown this kind of mental processing is critical to better decision-making; focusing more deeply and paying attention; making connections; and fostering innovative, creative and experimental thinking. And there’s no doubt that keeping our distance from devices moves us closer to the people around us. There’s real value in just being, not always doing.

4. Why did the writer write this piece?

Ms. Zomorodi wrote this book to help others realize the value of downtime and off-screen time, which she discovered for herself and shared with listeners to her radio show, Note to Self. Listeners related to her quest to reclaim unstructured, boring time and she developed a weeklong program to recapture free time from the vice grip of our devices. She knew it had the power to help a lot more people. After all, who isn’t spending a ton more time staring at a screen than staring out a window and dreaming or processing?

5. What does the audience need to know?

This isn’t a judgmental book. This isn’t an anti-tech book. It’s a book to show us how to use our devices to make our lives better, rather than get sucked into their attention-grabbing tactics. You’ll get a lot out of this book even if you don’t do the activities. And if you’re part of a family or work group, I suggest having everyone read it. It would be an interesting group project, but even if you don’t go all in, you can have a great discussion.