Bored at Work? 7 Ways to Fight the Blahs
Sometimes when you look up at the clock, it can seem like time is barely moving.
Whether you’re faced with the inevitable downtime, working through an important but menial task, or attending meetings where familiar material is discussed, every job can have periods of boredom. It’s perfectly natural — you aren’t guilty just because you feel a little bored.
Just remember that you do have some control over how energized and engaged you feel on the job. Try the following tactics the next time you hit a lull, and see how you can get more out of your day (or at least move the clock a little faster).
- Take the opportunity to learn
If you find yourself bored simply because you’ve hit a momentary lag time between tasks that are otherwise fairly engaging, use the time to deepen your knowledge of the industry or career you find yourself in.
Look into trade publications you can read to understand more about trends happening in your field. Watch a training video that can introduce you to the latest techniques and specialty skills. Or, listen to a podcast that sheds light on an area of interest that can help continue your career development. And don’t discount the knowledge held by more experienced co-workers. Sometimes a quick conversation with a tenured employee can yield useful information that can further your own career.
- Organize your work area or computer
Occasional downtime is a great time to pay attention to the little tasks you put off during busier stretches.
The overflowing file room you’re afraid to enter, the pile of papers on your desk or your computer’s cluttered desktop could all use a little attention, and clearing them up now will help you function more smoothly and stress-free later.
- Ask your coworkers how you can help, or just check in
You might not be the only one who needs a little boost. If somebody else is swamped and you have a little free time to lend a hand, they’ll be much more likely to help you when you need it.
And you don’t just have to pitch in with work. Sometimes a simple check-in or asking about weekend plans can be just as rewarding, while also contributing to a positive work culture and environment.
- Put yourself in charge of something
Taking into account that you’ll want to ask for a manager’s blessing, remember that you can usually color outside the lines of your job description. Be entrepreneurial by getting involved in projects that solve problems and spark your interest.
Often, just the process of choosing a project yourself will make you feel more invested in what you’re doing on a daily basis. And it can earn you positive notice from your employer, too.
- Take breaks and have fun
Break schedules can vary from job to job, but when you get a break, take it. Don’t just sit where you are and scroll through your phone, but instead do what it takes to re-center and reset. Walk around, change your scenery, get your blood pumping and clear your mind. The more of a “break” your breaks feel like, the more it will help you stay focused and engaged when you come back.
And while all employers want you to be productive, there’s not usually a rule against having a little work-appropriate fun. Let your guard down, and don’t be afraid to get silly. Challenge a co-worker to a dance-off in the break room, make a funny face while your colleague’s call is on hold. Goofing around isn’t the only thing you should be doing at work, but most employers recognize the value of camaraderie between peers.
- Ask for advice
Without phrasing the problem aggressively or blaming anybody, it’s OK to admit to your manager that you’re struggling to stay focused, so long as they can see you’ve been trying your best.
Asking for tips for how to deal with the situation can help you build trust in the workplace, and you could get some helpful advice from somebody with more experience. Think of this as a chance to reach out to a mentor.
- If all else fails, look into other options
If you’ve tried everything you have control over, now is a great time to examine your job options. You can talk to a recruiter to find out what the current job market looks like for people with your skills and experience.