17 things you should do if you're bored at work
- If you're bored at work, it could be a sign that you're not taking care of yourself enough or that you need more skills or stimulation.
- Or, if ennui is a never-ending state during your workday, it might be a sign that you need to make some serious changes to your professional life.
- Try these tips to make your workday happier, less boring, and more productive.
Bored at work again?
There's a better way to use your time besides reading the news, browsing Facebook, and glancing at the clock every other minute.
You could use downtime at work to improve your career by setting new goals, networking, or building up your skillset.
There might be restorative things you can do to lessen your fatigue and make your day more pleasant, like cleaning up around the office or making sure you get lunch with your favourite colleague. Or, it might even be time to quit your job.
Here's what to do if you're bored at work — again.
Figure out the thing that bores you the most, and see how you can fix it
Maybe it’s the daily, hours-long meetings that border on soul-crushing. Or the endless paperwork.
If you're fed up and find that it's drastically harming your productivity and happiness, you can change the situation. There are ways to approach your boss with suggestions for improvement.
The Muse recommends writing down your thoughts on what could be improved in the workplace, then setting up a meeting to communicate that feedback.
And be sure to be diplomatic and polite during that meeting — not whiny.
Eating lunch at your desk isn't always a power move. It might be making you sleepy and feel disconnected from your co-workers.
Research shows the ability to step away for a lunch break reduces fatigue.
Getting lunch with your colleagues also increases team performance "by leveraging the mundane and powerful activity of eating," researchers from Cornell found.
Take a walk
Taking an actual lunch break to eat is great. The next step: taking 30 minutes to go on a group walk.
Research from the UK demonstrated that employees who went on a 30-minute walk three times a week experienced boosts to their enthusiasm and relaxation while lessening anxiety.
If 30 minutes sounds too long, try five minutes of walking every hour. Researchers found that taking short, regular walks improved participants' energy and mood. Office workers who took regular strolls also craved food less.
Grab coffee with the CEO
Meeting your CEO may seem nerve-wracking. But it can also help your career and force you to learn more about the company around you.
Show that you're interested in your industry and the company, not just sucking up, Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "The Humor Advantage," told Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz.
Here are some questions you might want to ask him or her during your coffee chat:
1. "How can I/my team be of greater help when it comes to X project?"
2. "It seems that ABC company is making inroads in the XYZ area. Do you feel that's one of our biggest competitive threats?"
3. "What does success look like for you?"
Write out everything amazing you did in the past month
Spend 15 minutes at the end of the workday with a paper journal and write what you feel went well that day.
Research from Harvard Business School suggests that it will make you feel more confident and understand what you're doing better.
That increased engagement with your work could decrease boredom. You'll learn more about your working style and what you could improve upon, and that development will make you more motivated to work.
Research upcoming industry conferences
Grow your network and industry know-how at a conference. When you get back to work, you'll likely be motivated to implement your new knowledge and share what you've learned with your co-workers.
Learn a new skill
If your company doesn't have the money to send you to a conference, learn from your desk with an online course or by reaching out to a co-worker who's savvy with computers, languages, or other topics.
Taking a break for a new task will reduce fatigue and boredom with your typical to-do list, according to Make magazine writer Saul Griffith. "I've always found that it's useful to have something else to be doing when you're too burnt out to face the next thing on your list," Griffith wrote. "That way, flipping back and forth between the two projects prevents focus fatigue.
A new way to tackle analysing data, liaisoning with co-workers in different countries, or other tasks might make your current job quicker or more fun, too.
Ask your boss or co-workers how you can help
You might be dozing off, but your boss is probably super-stressed.
Asking your boss how you can help out is an ideal way to impress him or her, while adding some more projects to your day.
"Volunteer to help your boss with key projects, even if the project is not yet on your to-do list," Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job" told Business Insider.
You can also offer help to your co-workers.
"If you're caught up, let your peers know that you would be glad to assist them, too," Taylor said. "Your reputation as a team player will quickly spread, just make sure you're being genuine about it and not taking on more than you can handle."
Join the company kickball team — or start it yourself
Meet colleagues outside of your team and get some exercise by helping form a company kickball, soccer, or softball team.
Set challenging goals
Create goals that are specific and challenging, seminal goal-setting theorist Edwin Locke advises.
"When goals are specific and hard, the higher the commitment, the better the performance," Locke, professor emeritus of the University of Maryland, wrote in a research paper.
Specific benchmarks and a way to reach them will boost your motivation. And you'll be all the more satisfied once you accomplish those goals, according to Locke.
Connect with old contacts
If things are slow at work, grab coffee or lunch with some people you haven't seen in a while. It's a great way to maintain your network and keep plugged into industry news and happenings. Or make new connections with folks who have your dream job with this email format.
Listen to music
Listen to music for 10 to 15 minutes before you tackle your to-do list, Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist and the author of "This is Your Brain on Music" told Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz.
When you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine and possibly serotonin. Both of these neurotransmitters elevate your mood.
If you're doing repetitive or monotonous tasks, like paperwork, you can listen while you work. But avoid doing focused work and listening to music at the same time — you'll get distracted.
Interior designers told Business Insider that a less-cluttered desk enables you to feel less scattered. Neatening up your office area could be a good way to pass the time, and your co-workers will thank you for making the work area a little more pleasant.
Befriend your co-workers
Take a few minutes from the drudgery to build a rapport with your favourite colleagues. If you like your co-workers, you'll feel more motivated to do a good job at work. "Good workplace relationships are one of the most important sources of workplace happiness," Alexander Kjerulf, an international author and speaker on happiness at work, told Forbes.
"We know that people who are happy at work are more productive, more creative and more successful overall."
Reach out to a new employee
Mentoring an intern or a new hire should make them feel more welcome — and could make you feel more important to your organisation.
Make a totally out-of-the-box weekend plan
Try using your hard-earned money this weekend on an experience instead of a new piece of tech or clothing. Science shows that we feel better from experiential purchases than material ones. So go to that museum in town you've never been to before, on a hike, or something totally crazy — like sky-diving so you return to work on Monday feeling restored.
Quit your job
"Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a 'push' that motivates us to switch goals and projects," wrote philosophy professor Andreas Elpidorou of the University of Louisville in a paper.
If you've tried just about everything to improve your current job and you've felt unhappy for months, it may be time to quit and find a company that fits your interests and skill set. "If you're no longer challenged in your position and have tried communicating with your boss to no avail, this may be a sign that it's time to leave," Taylor told Business Insider's Rachel Gillet.
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