Boredom is a universal emotion that we all experience from time to time. However, it isn’t the most pleasant feeling — particularly when you’re at work and lack the freedom to explore activities that could combat it. But just because you’re stuck working doesn’t mean that you have to suffer through boredom.
So, if you’re wondering what to do when you’re bored at work, here are ten ways to overcome boredom, so that you can make your work life more fulfilling, interesting and, well, less boring.
1. Identify triggers
There are a number of different causes of boredom. And while everyone gets bored from time to time, there are individual variances in triggers and tolerance. Some examples of causes of boredom include loneliness, lack of interest in the activity, monotony, lack of autonomy or lack of physical activity.
Therefore, one of the first steps you can take in identifying boredom is figuring out what triggers it for you in the first place. If you’re an extrovert, you may need to incorporate more social interaction into your day. If you’re not being challenged enough, you may need to take on new responsibilities. Considering your exact struggles at work and causes of your boredom will enable you to more effectively find a solution.
2. Practice job crafting
Although every job has a list of required duties and responsibilities, this doesn’t mean that there is never any wiggle room to customize the role. And altering your job, or “job crafting,” can be an effective way to overcome boredom. Job crafting entails changing approaches, processes or even the scope of your role. It’s a way of making the job your own and better incorporating your skills and strengths into the role.
For example, let’s say you work as an accountant but have exceptional people skills that you’re under-utilizing. You could volunteer to mentor interns in order to have more meaningful interactions with others. Although this task isn’t explicitly in your job description, it still adds value to the organization. Through job crafting, you can overcome boredom in even the most boring jobs.
3. Find your “why”
Boredom can often stem from a lack of purpose or meaning in your work. However, just because you may be struggling to find meaning in your job, doesn’t mean quitting is the only solution. It is possible to reframe your job in order to inject more meaning into your work.
For example, if you work as a recruiter at an agency, you may describe your job as sourcing candidates, hitting quotas, scheduling interviews and filling roles. However, it’s in your power to change the perception of your job. You could also describe your role as helping people get fulfilling jobs. And this sense of meaning may make you less bored at work, and more filled with purpose.
If you’re bored at work, conceptualizing innovative new ideas can be a stimulating activity that could also lead to real job benefits. You can start by considering all the tasks, processes or activities in your current role. Then, think of ways in which you could potentially complete these tasks more efficiently and effectively, which will help you not be bored at work.
For example, if you’re a sales representative that is responsible for reaching out to prospective clients via email, this task may at first seem pretty straightforward. However, there are various ways you could innovate. You could experiment with different email formats. Or you could change the process, such as sending the emails in batches to make the task more efficient.
5. Build your personal brand
If it’s a slow time at work, you should try to fill your time with activities that are somewhat related to your job rather than leisure. And for this reason, using the extra time to build your personal brand can be a great way to fight boredom. Although it may not directly add value to your role, building your personal brand can indirectly increase your employer’s brand awareness.
The best way to start building your personal brand is by posting valuable content and engaging with others on LinkedIn. Although most employers support their employers posting content related to their organization during the workday, it’s best to post other content during non-working hours. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t prepare your posts in advance, or even schedule them with a scheduling tool. Building your brand is a win-win. You can fight boredom and boost your career.
6. Organize your files
Organizing is an activity that people either love or loathe. If you love organizing, then this’ll be an enjoyable way to overcome boredom at work. And if you loathe organizing but have some free time, it is probably still better to have something to do at work than nothing, right? And for this reason, organizing your files is a great way to fight boredom.
You can start organizing your files by deleting any documents that you no longer need. Then you can work on the taxonomy of your filing system to organize your files in a logical way. If organizing doesn’t come natural to you, there are various techniques you can look up online. This is a sure-fire way to kill some time.
7. Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that can help fight boredom and improve focus. Developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique involves working in 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between.
Since working too long on a task can lead to boredom, breaking it up into shorter, focused intervals can help sustain your attention and keep you engaged in the task at hand. It’s also pretty easy to get started using the Pomodoro Technique. Simply set a timer on your phone or computer for 25 minutes. Once the timer goes off, take a short break, and start over again.
8. Listen to music
If you’re feeling bored at work, why not turn on some tunes? Listening to instrumental music, such as classical music, while working is not only a great way to fight boredom, but could also lift your mood. Some research has even indicated that listening to classical music can lead to increased cognitive ability, which is a theory known as the “Mozart Effect”.
Lifting your mood and increasing your cognitive ability are two benefits of listening to music that can help you better cope with boredom. You can try starting out by playing some relaxing instrumental music on low volume. This way, the music can enhance your mood without impairing your ability to concentrate.
9. Move your body
One of the healthiest and most productive ways to overcome boredom at work is by incorporating more physical activity into your day. Stimulating your body through movement is not only a way to beat boredom, but also comes with some serious health benefits. These include higher levels of energy, better sleep, and improved mood.
Instead of using your breaks to scroll through your social media feed, try doing some exercise at your desk, office yoga or going for a walk outside. If you work from home, you could even do some light bodyweight exercise throughout the day. For example, that 10 minutes in between meetings could be used to get in a set of squats or lunges.
10. Practice mindfulness
Boredom is a feeling that is sometimes unavoidable. And most jobs will include tasks and responsibilities that you’ll find less stimulating than others. Therefore, when you can’t completely overcome boredom, the best thing you can do is learn how to better cope with it. And this is why learning how to practice mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness is a practice that involves maintaining your focus on the present moment and not getting distracted by your thoughts. While it may not completely relieve you of boredom, practicing mindfulness can help you better tolerate it. So, next time you’re working on a tedious or monotonous task at work, try to not let your thoughts pull you away from the present moment.
While boredom can be an uncomfortable feeling, it isn’t all negative. There are some benefits to feeling bored, such as enhanced creativity and problem solving. However, if you notice that you are frequently bored at work, this could have negative impacts on your wellbeing.
This is why learning ways to overcome boredom can be so helpful. To recap, here’s how to stop being bored at work:
- Identify triggers so that you can better understand what the root cause of your boredom is.
- Craft your job in a way that makes it more meaningful, interesting and fulfilling for you.
- Consider ways to innovate processes, ways of working or tasks within your remit.
- Stimulate your body through taking breaks throughout the day to get in some exercise and movement.
- Practice mindfulness in order to better cope with boredom and stay focused at work.
Although boredom is a normal feeling, if you feel bored at work more than you feel fulfilled, this could be a sign of a larger issue, such as job misalignment. So, while the ten tips above can help you overcome occasional boredom, if you’re chronically bored at work, this may require some soul searching in order to find a way to get greater fulfilment from your career — or it might be time to change careers so you feel fulfilled.
What do you do when you’re bored at work? Let us know your tips in the comments below!