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17 Creative Ways to Kill Boredom In The Office

17 Creative Ways to Kill Boredom In The Office

1. Play around with something new

As the old saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well Ian Worrall, CEO of Encrypted Labs believes that one of the most effective ways to counter office boredom is providing your team with some new tech to play with.

“360 Video and VR for example (which cost less than $300) can keep several employees free from boredom,” he says, “as well as be mutually beneficial for the company. Managers win due to creative content most likely being the end result, and employees enjoy toying around with something new (without even realizing that some of their content can actually be used to market the Brand.)”

2. Focus less on the work, and more on being happy

If work is beginning to feel like a drag, the honest truth may be that you’re just not happy at work.

As Mike Fabbri, Senior Lead of Agent Development at Compass puts it, “Happiness is the outcome which bolsters productivity and retention – our two main sources of revenue.”

In order to create happier employees, his team focuses on constantly boosting the levels of engagement, communication, connection, and acknowledgment within the company. This includes weekly emails touting recent successes, lots of personal contact, and frequent interactive workshops. According to Fabbri, the holistic approach has brought new life to employees!

3. Spruce up the office in a big way

“It’s hard to be bored at work when your office is made of shipping containers, everyone is allowed to bring their best friend to work and the quickest way to get downstairs is by a giant metal slide,” says Kelly Brosch, spokesperson for Kurgo.

Dedicated to attracting new and creative talent, Kurgo decided that making their office a place that employees want to be at was a priority. And their new space certainly reflects that!

4. Take the power back

Few things are more tedious and mundane than being handed a list of tasks from your boss day after day and week after week. It can zap your creative juices in a hurry and put a drag on your focus and energy. To counter this, Levy Production Group’s Co-Founder, Barry Levy, suggest giving employees control over their own goals and workflow.

When agreeing on a new contract with an employee, he’ll take time to discover each employee’s short-term and long-term goals, and then makes sure the workers hold themselves accountable to those goals.

He believes that “Employees who establish their own goals for promotions, salary, and personal development have a greater energy for achieving those goals than employees who don’t put that pressure on themselves.”

He believes that the engagement produced by that “pressure” benefits the company and the employee, who gets exactly the job she wants because she’s the one detailing how that job looks day to day!

5. Stop doing work you hate

After a period of major growth, Firm86 Founder and CEO Benjamin Surman began to notice a trend.

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Despite having “great connections and endless referrals” from clients, he says, “our clients went from always being enthusiastic about results to just ‘meh’ about results.”

What he discovered was that they’d been so busy onboarding new clients, they hadn’t taken the time to find out what their employees were really interested in and which clients they would do the best work for. The solution?

“We began to learn more about our people and talent. What did they like outside of work and what would be their ideal client to work with? We then started to align talent interests to client interests and voila, the satisfaction flourished among both client and talent!”

6. Pump up the volume

Need a way to add some energy during the day? You might try infusing the office with some music! It’s worked out great for April Jimenez and the uber-talented design team at Huemor.

She says, “Something that seems to work well for us is a universal speaker in the office. Each person has access to the speaker in the middle of the large space – we each can cue up music to listen to, and anyone that doesn’t want to can put headphones on.”

Beyond simply infusing fun, Jimenez says it can serve as a great tension breaker (“I dare you to not crack a smile when someone plays ‘Who Let’s the Dogs Out.'”) She calls the shared speaker “a relatively easy and cheap way to fodder some type of community.”

Definitely something worth trying!

7. Let them explore their passions

What motivates you most as an employee (or, alternatively, what motivates your employees most?) The simple truth is that most people are motivated by following their passions, not simply by picking up new office skills.

“Learning a new Excel function might help pad the resume of an employee who’s going to leave you someday,” says LexION Capital CEO Elle Kaplan, “but it doesn’t offer that employee any actual, personal development.”

She points to Google’s “20% time” as an example of giving employees the freedom to branch out and try things that really interest them. “When people are allowed to push the boundaries of their daily responsibilities,” she says, “it often yields some happy accidents. Unique ideas emerge.”

8. Create your own (career) adventure

If your everyday role at work is boring you, try looking not at where you are now but where you want to be. That’s what Chris Castiglione, Co-Founder & Dean of One Month believes.

“Here at One Month,” he says, “we asked every employee, ‘How can we help you succeed personally next year?'”

He admits that giving employees the ability to grow into new roles is not always a straightforward, clear-cut proposition.

Despite that, he says that “allowing employees to grow, experiment and challenge themselves is something I’m really passionate about in the culture we create.”

And so far, it’s allowing their company culture to thrive.

9. Cut the cord once in a while

Carisa Carlton, one of the experts behind Where Women Create Business Magazine, is a firm believer that a change of locale can provide a big boost to creativity and collaboration.

“When I led the development of Chat Face2Face,” she says, “I took my team to Molokai island for three days where we sat on a wifi-less waterfront estate detailing our user interface design in between rounds of ping-pong.”

Her motivation was simple: Get her creative and technology teams to trust one another enough to accept criticism and play off of one another’s ideas. In short, she says, “It worked.”

She adds that although “many of our evenings were spent in front of computers, our biggest ideas came to life during times of social relaxation such as dining or play.”

While a trip to a Hawaiian island may be a bit cost prohibitive for most business, a change of scenery can provide serious benefits to any employee.

10. Diversify your meetings

Meetings. They can be one of the most mind-numbing aspects of a workday, particularly when they seem to feature the same cast of characters discussing the same projects and running into the same roadblocks, over and over again. A clever way to add some diversity to the discussion is by engaging workers in group ‘thinkbox’ projects, utilizing employees who aren’t normally part of the conversation.

“This will allow employees to think outside the box,” says Meadows Gaming VP Kegin Brogan, “and discuss multiple ways of solving the same problem.”

It breaks up the monotony for both the normal meetings-goers as well as those who are primarily focused on tasks rather than high-level strategy.

11. Work hard…and play hard

Sometimes beating boredom at work is about making frequent goals and staying focused on them for just a few days at a time. That’s exactly the approach that’s been adopted by the team at Venta Marketing. Director Courtney Lindbeck says that they begin each week with an all-hands meeting, where employees outline the big goals they’re focused on completing during the week.

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“When Friday rolls around,” she says, “we do something called ‘Happy Faces.’ On the whiteboard we draw a smiley face, a frowning face, a question mark and a light bulb. Under these sections we each write what we’re happy about from the work week, what we’re upset or discouraged about, what we have questions about, and finally, what new ideas or strategies we have thought of.”

Making specific goals with short timelines – and then celebrating their completion each week – helps keep everyone motivated and really livens up the office, according to Lindbeck.

12. Make a suggestion

Sometimes finding ways to improve a workplace comes down to asking for feedback from employees and then acting on it! Why?

Well, as Duncan Murtagh, Co-Fouder of Vetter, says, “No two job environments are exactly the same, so applying “cookie cutter” solutions effectively can be difficult.”

Instead, he suggests asking for and using employees’ ideas. If you’re saying to yourself, “This sounds like the old office comment box,” you’re right. But when done right, it works. According to Murtagh, it makes employees feel valued, “and employees who feel valued at work are naturally happier and more motivated to perform well.” If you’re looking to make your office the perfect place to work, this is a great way to make it happen.

13. Keep a sense of humor

“Our motto is that we’re all going to make mistakes,” says Teri Gualt, CEO of The Grocery Game, “so learn to write good limericks!”

Instead of droning on and on about a mistake an employee has made, more managers could benefit from taking the lighthearted and creative approach adopted by Teri and her team. Accepting that mistakes happen will take the pressure off of everyone involved, and requiring the employee to explain the mishap in the form of a limerick will make fun out of a normally heavy situation. It will also activate their creative juices, which will probably carry over into their normal workload.

14. Add a little activity to your day

We’ve all felt the mid-afternoon energy lull – even during the busiest of days. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome. The Goodwin Group in Boston, Massachussetts has come up with a few creative ways to do just that! Their employees often take advantage of yoga and CrossFit during the day to take a break and re-energize.

They also have occasional bring your dog to work days because, as spokesperson Amanda Santucci says, “Who wouldn’t want to play fetch in the office?”

Sounds like my kind of office!

15. Get a little more personal

One of the biggest workday vibe-killers can be spending the day surrounded by a bunch of people you don’t really know or care about. It’s awfully easy to get bored when the work gets mundane and you’ve got no friends around to break up the monotony. Doubledot Media CEO Simon Slade has the cure.

“Team outings build camaraderie,” he says. “Employees get to know one another personally and professionally, which promotes collaboration,” he continues.

These personal connections, he believes help make everyday more rewarding and, ultimately, more fun.

16. Work less (yes, you read that right)

The 40-hour work week has been the standard in the U.S. for nearly 150 years.

But as Kaja Kuczyńska from Painite Consulting reminds, “The 40 hour work week was created as a “ceiling” on the amount of hours a worker should contribute to the workforce.”

Over time, she says, expectations have seemed to morph to the point that a 40-hour workweek is now the minimum expectation. To combat the boredom and burnout that can accompany these long workdays, she suggests taking plenty of breaks throughout the day.

“Employees should get up frequently,” she says, “to stretch, grab a drink or engage with other employees.”

These small breaks can help keep your mind fresh and engaged as the workday rolls on. They also provide workers with an important chance to stand up and move around, which can have serious health benefits

17. Always keep learning

As much as we all enjoy variety in our work, the truth is that our tasks and projects will often be very similar in nature. And it can sometimes seem like you’re missing out on opportunities to grow new skills and become more valuable as an employee. To combat this, Samuel Orf, Director of Art at Levy Online suggests something he calls a “lunch and learn.” They combine a catered lunch with a presentation on a new skill or process that others in the company may not have tried yet.

“Not only does it bring the team together,” he says, “it’s a way for people in different departments to better grasp what their coworkers do or for someone in the same department to dive a little deeper and learn something new.”

All in all it’s a way to keep things moving forward even when things are feeling slow.

Bonus: If all else fails, hire a balloon artist

Sometimes, no matter how many great new policies you put in place or how many team-building activities you hold, you might still need to add a little spice to the day. An idea you might not have thought of is hiring an entertainer to come in and enliven your team! That’s exactly what several Fortune 500 companies have done according to Mark Byrne, Owner of Winking Derby. He’s been flown around the world to liven up call centers and customer service departments.

Certain jobs are, by nature, stressful and/or repetitive. Doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to keep things interesting!

Featured photo credit: Not Motivated/ Leon Fishman via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

Overwhelmed with work, family responsibilities, financial challenges and health issues are common culprits which catalyze stress and anxiety symptoms that show up differently in each and every one of us.

Whilst many of us are becoming much better at identifying what can trigger us to feel these, we’re not always that great at recognizing our individual thresholds; we don’t know exactly how to calm down when the mental, emotional storms erupt.

We can almost see you eye-rolling upon hearing commonly recommended stress antidotes such as taking a bath, lighting candles or going for a walk. Let’s face it. These simply aren’t practical things you can do when you’re on a red-eye flight at 5:30am to run a full day of training interstate and then fly back the same evening not to mention juggling a young family.

You want to know your triggers, predict the impact of them and have your own suite of tools up your sleeve to calm down that impact for the long-term.

Doing a little ground work to gain a strong self-awareness of your likely reactions puts you smack bang in the pilot seat to develop a robust mental and emotional toolkit that will work wonders for you.

A few simple but well-practiced techniques may be all you need to simmer down the cyclonic intensity of emotions, and disparaging thoughts pecking away at your self-esteem and confidence. However, it’s important you do this self-reflective groundwork first to gain maximum impact for long-term effect.

1. Strengthen Familiarity with What Triggers You

When you have arguments with your loved one, do you stop and look to see if there are certain things you fight about? Are there certain behaviors they display that drive you bananas?

Take your focus off them and ask yourself: “What is my usual response?”

Perhaps you feel the anger welling up inside your chest and you then spurt out that you’ve told him or her ten times before to not leave their underwear lying across the bedroom floor.

Think a little deeper. Ask yourself what values, standards and expectations you have that are not being met here. You’ll likely be attached to certain ways you believe things should play out. Are there assumptions and expectations as to how you believe people should conduct themselves and principles about how you feel you should be treated?

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Having a strong attachment to these for yourself is one thing. Expecting others to have the same attachment is often what can make the hot water start simmering.

It is often when people behave in ways inconsistent with our belief systems and events unfold in discord with what we expect and are prepared for that we feel the most stress and anxiety.

Make a list of the common circumstances in different areas of your life that cause you to become anxious and stressed. Against each of these, describe your stress response:

What happens? What do you feel?

Now think about the values, principles and expectations you have attached to these. You’ll see you have a few options:

  • Change my values and expectations
  • Try to change other’s values and expectations
  • Recognize and be in allowance of others having different values, standards and expectations

Reviewing how you react when you’re stressed and anxious, and identifying which of these three options above is going to best serve you, can greatly increase your ability to feel and be in control of calming your reaction.

You move closer to being able to choose how you want to respond as opposed to feeling helpless and the world is spiralling out of control.

2. Have Coping Statements on Hand

When you have a washing machine of chaotic thoughts churning in your mind, trying to implant thoughts that are the complete opposite of what you’re thinking and feeling can be pretty hard.

Not being able to do it can also add another layer of us feeling disappointment in ourselves. We feel we’re failing.

Having coping statements that you can literally latch on to to help you calm down in those stressful and anxious moments, can be particularly helpful.

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Look at creating palm cards and just have three to five of these you can have in your pocket or in your purse. Here are 6 examples:

  • Even though I am feeling this right now, I am going to be alright
  • What I am feeling right now is uncomfortable. I won’t feel this way forever. Soon the intensity of what I am feeling will pass.
  • I’ve survived these feelings before. I can do it again.
  • I feel this way because of my past experiences but right now, I am actually safe.
  • It’s ok for me to feel this way. My body and brain are trying to protect me but I am actually safe right now.
  • Ah, here you are again, anxiety. Thanks for showing up to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.

Choose words and dialogue that feel true and accurate for you. Read the statements out to yourself and test how fitting they are for you. What feels more assuring, calming and right for you?

Make these statements your own. The aim is of these statements is to de-escalate the intensity of what you feel when you’re anxious and stressed.

Remember, you want to refrain from having blunt statements which feel or sound like they’re self-reprimanding because they won’t be pacifying in a positive way.

If you are unsure as to how to come up with statements that fit for you, look to work with a psychologist or licensed therapist to give you a strong start.

3. Identify and Develop Physical Anchors

You actually have within you resources to provide some of the most effective ways to calm yourself down in heightened moments you feel stressed and anxious. Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Levine and expert in treating stress and trauma, teaches us how techniques which do this, such as Somatic Experiencing®[1] can significantly help us calm down.

By learning to be fully present and applying touch to certain areas of your body (e.g. forehead and heart space), you increase your capacity to self-regulate. You also learn how to attend to and release your unique symptoms that your body has been containing in a way you have not been able to before.

Here’s one technique example:

  1. Get in a comfortable position
  2. Have your eyes open or closed, whatever feels most comfortable for you
  3. Now place one hand on your forehead, palm side flat against the skin
  4. Place the other hand, palm down across your heart space above your sternum… the flat of your chest area.
  5. Gently turn your attention to what you feel physically in the area between your two hands. Observe and just take notice of what you physically feel. Is your chest pounding? How strong are its beat and the rhythm? Do you notice any other sensations anywhere else between your two hands?
  6. Don’t try to push or resist what you’re feeling. Try to just sit with it and remain this way with your hands in place until you feel a shift, a physical one. It might take a little longer, so try to be patient.

You might feel a change in energy flow, a change in temperature or different, less intense sensations. Just keep your hands in place until you feel some kind of shift, even if gradual.

It might take you even 5 to 10 minutes but, riding this wave will help you to process what discomfort your body is containing. It will greatly help to release it so you gradually become calmer.

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Purely cognitive exercises can be tough at the outset. Learning somatic experience techniques is particularly helpful because you’re engaging in exercises where you physically can feel the difference. Feeling the changes helps you increase confidence you can control and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. You’ll be motivated to keep practicing and improving this skill you can take anywhere, anytime.

4. Move and Get Physical

If you’re not one to exercise, you’re robbing yourself of some very easy ways which help you calm down and reduce stress and anxiety responses. Many neuro chemical changes take place when you engage in exercise.

At certain levels of physical exertion, your brain’s pituitary gland releases neurotransmitter endorphins. When they bind with certain opiate receptors in your brain, signals are transmuted throughout your nervous system to reduce feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. You might have heard the term ‘runner’s high’.

For the last 20 years, University of Missouri-Columbia’s Professor Richard Cox has conducted research showing that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at reducing anxiety and stress levels than other forms of aerobic exercise.[2] However, if you would rather slay dragons than turn up an F45 class, it’s essential you still find something that will physically shift you and alter your current mental and emotional state of mind, even just a fraction to start with. It’s 100% ok if this is not your cup of tea.

So in a day full of back of back-to-back meetings, what can you do?

If you’re sitting, stand. Change your posture and open your body up. Have a suite of discrete stretches you can do regularly as you deepen and engage in diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re looking down at your desk at work and feeling increasingly stressed, look up and change what you’re looking at. Give yourself more than a few moments to decompress.

The main thing is to change your disposition from the one you’re in when you are experiencing anxiety and stress symptoms. You’re shaking it up to calm it down.

5. Transform Your Unhelpful Inner Dialogue and Its Energy

Learning cognitive restructuring techniques can truly work wonders in helping you recognize and re-frame unhelpful dialogue and negative critical thinking patterns. This involves a little preparation being transparent with yourself about what exaggerated perspectives you might ascribe to what’s happening when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

When you open your email inbox and see a flood of requests which require more time and energy you have for that day, dread starts to settle in and the following comes to mind: “This is impossible. How can they expect me to be able to do all this? It’s completely unreasonable!”

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Instantly, many other thoughts that reinforce this line of thinking as well as the emotional energy of your first conscious thought start unravelling. A 4-step process you can engage to calm the eruption is:

  1. Catch and notice that first thought you had. What was it? What did you think and/or say to yourself?
  2. Recognize that what you’re feeling and be in allowance of the initial intensity of whatever those emotions are.
  3. Breath deliberately a little more deeply and slowly for a few seconds.
  4. State to yourself: “Right now (in this moment) I’m feeling overwhelmed by this, however maybe I can look at what I can make good progress and headway with as a start from here on.”

Notice the language in step 4 is tentative, supportive, soft and not resistant nor defiant of what your original thought was. You accept your original thought, but gradually you become stronger at pivoting it.[3] You’re expanding your growth mindset language.

It’s definitely worth working with a coach or trained therapist to learn how to tailor re-framing statements which can truly help you calm down.

Final Thoughts

We know, in our minds what we should do. When we’re in the thick of experiencing mental and emotional turmoil, it’s actually harder to implement what we know. In those moments, you’re unlikely to have capacity to think about what you need to do, let alone do it effectively to help you feel calmer.

The key is to practice so that when the storm is brewing, your toolkit and supplies are in easy access. You already know your safety drill well.

Knowing you have strategies and prepared processes up your sleeves helps you not only become better at calming yourself in amongst currently stressful situations. You have more confidence now to face more anxiety-provoking stressors because you have developed the resources to handle it.

How you invest time and energy into getting to know your triggers and thresholds will influence how effective these strategies will work for you. We’re not denying relaxing baths or regular massages are helpful, however these band-aid-like solutions don’t really confront the root causes.

If you truly want to turn your experience of your stress and anxiety symptoms around, dig deeper, do the groundwork and that which rattled your cage will quickly become a thing of the past.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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