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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 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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