Two Types of Boredom

September 23, 2020 by Ishaan Koratkar

This article is about a mental framework relating to 2 types of boredom and what causes them. This isn’t science but I think it’s a helpful mental framework.

LTB (long term boredom) is when your bored with what your doing, but bored over a long period of time. It’s caused by, what I think, is too much comfort. If you are too comfortable with what your doing, you become bored long term. To avoid it, or get rid of it, make sure there is always a degree of discomfort and the feeling of having something on the line. The feeling of accountability helps you do better work.

STB (short term boredom) is, on the other hand, a good thing. STB is when you are bored in the moment. Like in line at the grocery store or when cooking pasta. STB is good for you because it increases your ability to tolerate the lack of stimuli in the short term. But we have too many ways of avoiding STB. Our phones can give us access to cheap stimuli almost instantly. Media services that provide mile-long feeds of our friends and families help make us impatient and unfocused (1). We try too hard to avoid STB and too little to avoid LTB.

Thanks to Aditya Koratkar for reading a draft of this.

(1) I’m not saying I’m above any of these things, it’s just that it’s important to get rid of cheap stimuli as much as possible. We all fail sometimes, don’t be too hard on oneself.

(2) For more about this topic read Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. It goes in depth on attention spans and focus.

2020/09/23 by Ishaan Koratkar