It is 3:00 PM. You are staring at the clock on the wall thinking to yourself – “Man, I have 2 more hours.” This is the same time each day that you have to push yourself to concentrate just a little while longer so you can get through the rest of the day. You go through your daily “3:00 routine” – go to the bathroom, go to the vending machine downstairs to get a Coke, stop by your co-worker’s office to chat for a minute, and then reluctantly head back to your cave….uh… I mean your office. You sit there for a while thinking to yourself – it has happened again…I’m bored. This boredom is not because you don’t have work to do and it’s not necessarily because you don’t like the work that you do, but you are just simply bored. You contemplate leaving early for the day but you know you can’t because you want to call in “sick” later in the week. And you have a report you need to get to your boss by EOD. So, you are stuck at work. To pass some of the time away you check your personal email, get on social media to see if anyone commented on the last thing you posted, and you may even spend a little time perusing some websites looking for a job. BUT after all of this only 25 minutes has passed and you are still bored.
Why does this happen? Why do we get bored in the workplace? Initially when we started working at our job, we were excited to be there and couldn’t wait to tackle the issues for the day. Now some time has gone by and we’ve mastered our job duties. We’ve built a good rapport with our team members and clients and our boss treats us good (most of the time). We even have some great perks. But what happened? Where did the enthusiasm go? At what point did we start hitting the snooze button on the alarm multiple times to prolong the fact that we must get up and go to work?
I’m sure we could go on and on with reasons why we get bored in the workplace, but I think there is something more important to focus on – is there a cure? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I want to propose a few suggestions.
1) Tell Your Supervisor
I know you are thinking to yourself….No way, I’m not telling my supervisor anything because there may be repercussions. Well, I don’t exactly mean walk into your boss’ office tomorrow and say, “I’m bored.” You will have to be a little bit more creative in your approach. Perhaps you could mention that you aren’t feeling challenged anymore and would like to gain some additional skills. You may be surprised at how simple it can be. I did this once and I must admit I was nervous, but I was very candid with my supervisor. I said something like “When you hired me, you hired me to do my best work and I can no longer do that in my current position. I feel that my skills would be better used in another area. I am very passionate and like to do quality work. I want to be able to give 100% everyday and if I’m not able to do that I don’t feel like I’m doing my part.”
Remember what I said about a creative approach? Pour it on thick.
2) Switch Roles/Teams
After you tell your supervisor you want to gain additional skills or use your current skills somewhere else, figure out if there is another role you could play on your current team. Another option would be to move to another team altogether within your company. This could be a win-win situation and hopefully an easy transition. The only change will be that your office will be on the 4th floor instead of the 3rd. (It will also help with those who are concerned about how job hopping will look on their resume.)
Now the conclusion to my story…..After I told my supervisor I could be better used in another area, he asked me what I would like to do. I said, “I would like to be the Career Planning Instructor.” He asked me why and I gave him my reasons and literally within 1 week I moved to another department and was teaching my first class.
3) Change Your Schedule
Perhaps you have been working 8:00 – 5:00 Monday – Friday for the last 4 years. Try coming in 9:00 – 6:00 or 10:00 – 7:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes just making a slight change in your schedule makes all the difference. A few other suggestions are working from home 1 – 2 days a week or working 9 hour days Monday – Thursday and a 4 hour day on Friday.
I recently implemented a change in my work schedule myself. I was working 8:15 – 5:15 most days and I felt rushed trying to get to work by that time and normally was dragging in. Now I work 9:00 – 6:00 and was amazed at how much of a difference 45 minutes made. I don’t feel like I have to rush in the mornings plus I miss some of the rush hour traffic; thus, I am much more relaxed when I arrive at work.
4) Attend Networking Events / Professional Development
Do a little bit of research to see what professional organizations are in your city pertaining to your industry. I don’t think your supervisor will have a problem giving you some time to attend an industry networking event or a conference. You can also enroll in some classes and get another degree or some certifications. Be sure to mention that the more you learn about the industry, the more knowledge you have to bring back to the company. (wink wink) Hopefully your department has a professional development budget that will pay for your costs associated with these things.
5) Spice Up Your Personal Life
Now you can interpret this any way you want to but what I am suggesting is maybe taking salsa lessons or joining the choir at church or remodeling your home or taking more vacations. If you have more exciting things going on in your personal life, it takes your mind off the frustration that can be caused by your job. You actually have something to look forward to once you leave work and it can make the day go by faster. (And don’t get me wrong……if you meet someone “special” that would be great too!)
6) Find Another Job
Unfortunately (or fortunately) this may be the only option. After you have exercised all of the above suggestions, this may be the only cure. But BEFORE you start looking for another job, do some soul-searching and figure out what you truly want in a job. If not, you will be right back in this same spot in a few years. Hey, having to find another job is not always a bad thing and can be quite rewarding if you do your research beforehand. When you are interviewing for your next job, be sure to ask how they value work/life balance and how they feel about professional development. You can ask about the management style and culture of the office and if there is an opportunity for a flexible schedule.
Like I said, these are just some of the things that I suggest and have actually done. I am eager to hear from you and what you do when you are bored in the workplace. Leave your “cure” in the comment section.