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Last Updated on October 2, 2018

What to Do When Bored at Work (And the Reason Why You Feel Bored)

What to Do When Bored at Work (And the Reason Why You Feel Bored)

It’s Monday again.

The annoying alarm breaks the piece of silence you are enjoying. You keep pressing snooze and don’t want to leave your bed. As the hour hand points to 8, every muscle in your body feels sore.

You arrive your office and turn on the computer at your seat. Everything seems so normal, except your mind wanders… you’re feeling bored at work…

If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you feel bored at work, and you are probably here to look for ways to get rid of this dreadful situation.

In this article, I’ll look into why you may feel bored at work, the little-known consequence of it and what to do when bored at work.

The real reason why you’re bored at work

Boredom reveals the potential problems you have at work:

A mismatch between your interest and your work

It’s very common that our work doesn’t match our interest, but we might not realize it sometimes. It’s good for you to think about why you applied for this job and why you started your job at the first place:

Because the salary was attractive? Or you had no other options but this job interview? Or you just wanted a new environment?

If these are your major concerns, you need to reconsider your interests in this job.

Not using your capabilities fully

Everyone has their strengths and talents. When your capabilities are not fully utilized at your job, you may find the assigned tasks not challenging at all.

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Worse still, you may start to question your value in your company and gradually lose motivation at work.

Little opportunity for growth and learning

Imagine you do the same tasks for two weeks, or two months, or two years, over and over. How would you feel? I’m sure you’ll be bored to death.

If your company doesn’t provide enough opportunities to grow and learn, and you can’t see any improvement, you will start to get disappointed and probably feel bored at your job.

Too much idle time

It’s important to take breaks at work. But when you are too free, it is a problem.

When you have too much idle time, your mind wanders off to somewhere else:

Thinking about where to eat, your relationship problems, or what your neighbor said this morning.

Although your mind is occupied, these thoughts are generated because you are bored.

You feel exhausted and tired

You have so many goals to achieve in life or things to manage beyond work. It’s easy to shift your attention and energy away from your work because you are too occupied with other parts of your life.

While you pay less effort at work, the less motivated and interested you are in your job, which in turn bores you even more.

No clear goal

People who have stayed in a position for a long time easily feel lost.

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You start to get confused with what you want to obtain from the job. You get used to your repeating daily routine and gradually lose your passion and interests in your job.

The little-known consequences of ignoring your boredom

You might think it’s okay to deal with your boredom later, but the longer you put this problem on hold, the more consequences you will face.

Don’t ignore your boredom, it might take a toll on you!

Higher stress pressure

A number of readers of Stress Relief Workshop commented:[1]

  • Boring jobs can be really stressful.
  • Feeling like your skills are going to waste in your current job can be stressful.

Develop bad habits

Experts reckon people relieve their boredom by drinking alcohol, indulging in unhealthy food, or carrying out risky actions at work.

When you leave your problem unsolved, you might find stimulation elsewhere to override your boredom.

Poor mental health

A study[2] shows an upsetting fact young adults or fresh graduates may develop depressions or black moods, because they:

“find themselves having to do work that doesn’t stretch them and keep them fulfilled.”

Low productivity

Like I mentioned before, when you are bored and uninterested in what you do, your productivity drops drastically.

What to do when you’re bored at work

Boredom won’t go away unless you take actions.

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So how to cure boredom? Fortunately there are ways you can change the situation:

1. Tell your boss or supervisor about your working situation

It’s always good for you to talk to your boss or supervisor if they welcome feedback. They should be the right people to talk to as they can understand and help you.

You can request for more challenging tasks or work that fit your interests. This can not only get you out from boredom, your boss will also appreciate your willingness to improve and learn.

2. Try to do more than you are expected to

To use your ability and time fully, try to do more than what your boss requires. After you finish the repetitive or unchallenging tasks, spend some time to take on tasks that are beyond your responsibilities.

As time goes by, your boss will notice and recognize your work ethic. You may get interesting tasks in the future to keep you going!

3. Learn new skills when you are free

If you have too much downtime, expand your knowledge and learn something new. A well-equipped person is always the gem in a boss’ eyes.

For example, if you work in the design team but are not familiar with the use of design software, it’s a good chance for you to have some self-learning time.

4. Know what you want from your job

This is important — when you know your goal, it can motivate you to work!

It’s fine to take some time to discover your goal and passion. But please remember to jot it down on a note and stick it on your desk as a reminder.

You may also consider some career advice if you need help.

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5. Take breaks to fight exhaustion

Taking rest is a preparatory step for a longer journey ahead. Don’t ever hesitate to take a break. You need it!

It’s crucial for you if you want to achieve more. Just get back to work when you feel ready. Don’t underestimate the power of a short break!

6. Quit your job if it’s holding you back

If you still find your work boring after trying every single method above, you should consider quitting your current job.

Opportunities are everywhere, there may be a better job waiting for you.

Make a change in your life and treat yourself better!

Final thoughts

When you feel bored at work, it’s actually a warning sign you shouldn’t overlook. It could mean you’re missing a purpose in life.

If you let this boredom continue, you’re putting your mental health and happiness at stake.

Stop doing the same thing every day and let yourself feel bored. Start making a change to make yourself feel enthusiastic again about your career and your life.

Featured photo credit: officevibe via officevibe.com

Reference

[1] Life Stress Balls: Stress at work
[2] Sunday Post: Being bored at work is bad for your health

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy How Your Attitude Determines Your Success How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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