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How I Kill Boredom at Work to Regain My Productivity

How I Kill Boredom at Work to Regain My Productivity
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If you’ve ever found yourself between assignments at work, you’ll know how unbearable it feels to be bored at work. On the one hand, surely completing your tasks should be rewarded with free time. On the other, you can’t be seen slacking off and need to stay productive. Finding assignments for yourself can be a challenge, but with some creativity you can prove that you’re a productive employee and prepare for future assignments at the same time.

Enroll in introductory online courses for new skills

With internet access you have thousands of free online courses at your fingertips.[1] Websites like Khan Academy, Codecademy and Udemy offer you access to a number of skills that make you a more valuable employee.

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Online classes can let you pick up crucial modern skills such as coding, improving your familiarity with programs like Excel, learn how to use all the features in Adobe programs and otherwise educate yourself. Your boss will appreciate seeing you increase your skill capacity, and this can definitely qualify as a productive use of time.

Sort through all your documents on your desk and laptop

If you’ve just finished all the projects you have assigned to you, take some time to sort through all the documents that have built up on your desk and in your inbox.[2] If you’re anything like the average office employee, you probably have a number of papers that have been stored in whatever folder was closest, piled in drawers or stacked on desks.

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By going through these documents and making sure they’re properly filed and stored, you can find any projects that haven’t been wrapped up, make connections between projects or come up with new ideas to work with the information you have. Take this time to clean up your inbox, including double checking which emails you may have forgotten to respond to or potential assignments you can follow up on.

Anticipate what assignments will land on your desk and get better prepared for them

If you’ve wiped out your to-do list for today, start drafting a to-do list for tomorrow. By anticipating projects and assignments that will land on your desk tomorrow, you can do a better job when you need to take care of the work. Contact people ahead of time if you know you’ll need to speak to them – arrange any interviews you’re going to have, ask people to send you documents when they’re ready and set reminders to make sure you don’t forget anything.

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Stand up and walk around the office

Most office workers are sedentary all day, which can lead to a sense of sluggishness and slow down your productivity. If you’re out of things to do, take a chance to go for a walk. It can help kickstart your imagination and work out some pent up energy when you’re pressed for stuff to do. And when you’re done with your walk, you can get back to work with a renewed vigor and increased productivity. Walking decreases tension and boosts your mood, making you less irritable and more satisfied.

Stretch your creative muscles and come up with new ideas

Free time gives you a chance to stress your creative muscles too. Use this free time to identify any common issues you have at work or ways to improve the day to day or large scale operations of your business. Do you receive regular customer complaints about a particular issue you haven’t been able to solve? Is there an outdated aspect of the business you think could be updated to increase efficiency or productivity as well as avoid injuries at work? You should make better use of this free time to come up with ideas to solve problems and draft proposals for your managers. You can show them that you’re engaged in the process, care about the success of the business and are capable of offering creative solutions when given time and resources.

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Browse job listings and search for appealing opportunities

How often do you find yourself bored out of your skull at work? If it’s often, you may want to consider using your free time to browse new job opportunities. Even if you’re not dedicating yourself to leaving your current job, checking out what’s available can remind you of what the job market looks like, show you what expectations other managers have and perhaps make you appreciate your current job more. If you really can’t find ways to keep yourself busy, you may be in the wrong position. Don’t trap yourself in a dead end job out of a sense of obligation – if you think your skills can be better used elsewhere, move on!

Finding ways to occupy time at work can be a challenge – you want to pass the time and you’re objectively productive, but your boss doesn’t want to see you slacking off. By sorting through assignments, picking up new skills and evaluating your position and responsibilities, you can keep yourself busy and help your career in the long run.

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Reference

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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)
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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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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