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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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Jimmy Winskowski

Freelance Author

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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