The Art of Being Bored


Manoush Zomorodi is the author of a new book Bored and Brilliant and had a great interview on the Think Again podcast last week.

Much of the conversation centred on how we distract ourselves with screens to avoid being bored. Of course social media came up, and she pinpointed for me why I also feel so averse to checking it constantly. She said she feels ‘emotionally overwhelmed’ when she looks at Instagram.

It totally hit home for me – I feel overwhelmed and disoriented after scanning through feeds as well. Of course, everyone is different and some people find social tools relaxing and engaging, but I think I’m closer to Manoush’s outlook on this. At the end of the day, as cliche as it is, it’s about values and where you want to spend your time to have a meaningful life. For me, it’s less online and more face-to-face.

I recommend you listen to the whole podcast! It’s a great episode that goes beyond social media complaints, and includes a good discussion on the research behind why we need to daydream to make sense of the world.

Stoic quote of the week: Conviction, courage and confidence

I spin at 6:30 in the morning a couple times a week, and it’s a tough slog. It requires pre-planning the night before, waking up in the dark and cold, getting past the fatigue, and after class I’m pressured to hustle to work. Lately it’s been hard to convince myself to do it.

One of my spin instructors often says: all you need is to show up and have conviction, courage and confidence! The rest will come.

So true, and today it was reinforced for me with this quote:

For the only safe harbour in this life’s tossing, troubled sea is to refuse to be bothered about the future will bring and to stand ready and confident, squaring the breast to take without skulking or flinching whatever fortune hurls at us.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Book Review: Datacylsm Who We Are

Dataclysm Paperback Cover

Dataclysm: Who We Are explores how we interact online through data. It’s about who we are, at a macro scale.

Christian Rudder is a co-founder of OKcupid, but he uses data from the online giants – Facebook, Twitter, Google, and yes OKCupid – to share how we behave online. The good, the bad, the ugly.

Flipping through this book, the red data, charts, and graphs stand out immediately. This book is for all the Tufte nerds out there (myself included)!

Dataclysm Example Graphs

Rudder delves into the better sides of ourselves, and the not so pretty sides. Race, politics, love, it’s all exposed here.

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Book Review: Far & Away

“Travellers venture forth because they want to experience a place, not just see it.”

In Far & Away, Andrew Solomon collects his essays and reporting from seven continents and 24 countries, over the period of 25 years. He tends to travel to countries when they are going through dramatic change, upheaval, or modernization.


Solomon visits South Africa after apartheid, Russia before and after the breakup of the USSR, China over the period of a decade, Rio in the years leading up the Olympics, Mongolia as nomads try to keep their way of life, and Myanmar after limited democratic elections.

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A World Without Work

We all have those days – days when we dread going into work. But what would happen if work actually went away? That’s the topic of a recent article from the Atlantic: A World Without Work.

It’s a bit of a fear-mongering piece mixed with some thoughtful commentary on technological progress:

What does the “end of work” mean, exactly? It does not mean the imminence of total unemployment, nor is the United States remotely likely to face, say, 30 or 50 percent unemployment within the next decade. Rather, technology could exert a slow but continual downward pressure on the value and availability of work—that is, on wages and on the share of prime-age workers with full-time jobs. Eventually, by degrees, that could create a new normal, where the expectation that work will be a central feature of adult life dissipates for a significant portion of society.

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Design Explosions: Office Mobile

I’m a big fan of the Design Explosions series, and the latest one doesn’t disappoint.

The focus is on designing the mobile apps for the Microsoft Office core suite: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Office Mobile Apps

Part of me wants to curl up in the fetal position thinking about leading that job – these guys are brave souls!

I highly recommend taking the time to read this article if you work on a product team, no matter what role you play.

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Daily Rituals

I struggle with schedules. It feels good to plan a daily schedule, but for me, it quickly falls apart in reality. I start to resent the structure after a while, and feel hostage to it. I don’t want to get up precisely at the same time everyday! What if I need a nap? What if I want to go for a long walk because it’s sunny today?

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Campaigns are a slog, but also fun

Note: This is a political post. I have tried to make this post as non-partisan as possible. Full disclosure: I volunteer with the Liberal Party of Canada.

Are you sick of this federal election yet?

It’s finally here: Election Day! The campaign was officially 78 days. To put it in perspective: I was wearing t-shirts and sandals in the sun when this started, and I wore a winter coat today.

This election felt more important than past ones to me. Maybe because I’m older, I pay more taxes, and I decided to make Canada my home for the long-term. But I think it’s more than that.

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