Boring, monotonous tasks help you become a better problem-solver, new research finds, because our brains use that unstimulating “down time” to branch out and think in more creative ways.

“Boredom has always had such bad press, but some boredom is possibly good… especially if it gives us the opportunity to daydream,” said Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K. …

“Being able to have that down time when you let your mind wander can be great for creativity,” Mann said.

Americans are getting less creative overall, according to a landmark 2010 study. …

Experts say one reason for our collective dearth of creativity is the increased stimulation we get in our everyday lives: We can watch Netflix while we wait for a bus and play Angry Birds when we’re stuck in a checkout line.