Many years ago I worked in a warehouse, and in one of my many roles there I was working on a sorting station. This involved scanning barcodes of products from one container to another. It was boring, time-consuming work and you couldn’t just churn through it and take off for a break! More containers could turn up any time and as they were destined for customer orders, you had to be ready.
For hours at a time there would be very few containers arriving. Ten, twenty, they didn’t take long to process. So I was stuck at this sorting station with very little to do besides wait.
There’s only so much pacing, tidying and organising you can do before that gets boring too. I’d always have pen and paper with me to record notes on any problems, but they didn’t happen much. Quite often I wouldn’t have anything to write down.
The Pen Mightier Than The Bored
Eventually, I just started doodling on the paper. Sometimes people would ask me about the drawing, sometimes they would make fun and say it was weird. Most of the time there wasn’t anyone around to comment and it became my favourite distraction from the boredom.
I started sketching my left hand in different poses, trying to get the shading right with the pen. Some of the sketches I was pretty happy with, some of them not so much. I can’t really imagine having so much time to myself in a workday now. Just sitting and drawing and completely on top of all my work at the same time.
As a doodler, I was in good company. I’ve read several articles about keeping yourself sharp as you age, and indulging in creative interests is one of the top pieces of advice out there. Learning a new language, playing an instrument, dancing and many other hobbies that we usually take for granted. When it comes to beating boredom, engaging in hobbies can keep you sharp at any age, even if only for five minutes at a time.