Who doesn’t get bored at work every now and then? A little daydreaming can be a good thing (if it allows you to think laterally and unleashes your creativity) but if you find yourself constantly checking the clock – or Facebook – it’s time to stop the rot.
Boredom at work is a sign that something needs to change. But are you simply weary of the same old faces and routines – or do you need a complete career shake up?
‘Being self- aware can help you distinguish between the natural ups and downs on a daily basis and a more significant underlying dissatisfaction with your role or job,’ says David Shindler, performance coach and author of “Learning To Leap”.
‘The tell- tale sign is how energised you are feeling. Positive energy comes from being engaged with what you are doing and how attached you are to your work.’
Feeling bored at work can be a good opportunity to take stock of whether your career is aligned with your passions and enthusiasms – or whether you’re in the wrong company.
‘For many, it’s simply a case of being in the wrong organisation, or having been there too long,’ says Clare Whitmell who blogs on careers at www.JobMarketSuccess.com.
‘Improving the job you have, or moving to a company that shares your ethos may solve the problem. There’s a big difference between working in a big multi- national company and a small start- up enterprise, for instance.’
For some people, it can take months or even years to discover they are a “round peg in a square hole”.
‘If you are someone who likes variety, change and spontaneity, doing routine and mundane tasks will quickly lead to boredom,’ explains David. ‘If you like to get your head down, focus on the task in hand and prefer your own company, then the social chit chat of the office may be a turn off. It comes down to knowing yourself and finding the right environment.’
Presuming you don’t want to switch jobs, there are ways to alleviate boredom in your current role – and advance your career at the same time.
Play to your strengths
When you next find yourself de-energised, David’s advice is to check your emotional pulse.
‘Are you doing something you dislike doing or are not very good at? Is it temporary or something you consistently find yourself required to do? How could you do the task in a way that played to your strengths and still achieve the desired outcome, maybe even quicker?
‘For example, if you are a competitive person, could you introduce a game element or set a challenging target to beat?’
In an ideal world, managers would energise and motivate their team. In reality, it’s up to you to find ways to stay engaged – for the good of your mental health, as well as your career.
Many people are bored at work because they don’t have enough to do – or the work they have isn’t challenging or rewarding enough. If that’s the case, be proactive.
‘Speak to your manager about projects you could take on – or come up with your own exciting idea to pitch to them,’ suggests David. ‘Once you know what energises you, you can bring that to bear on improving how things are done.’
Just don’t sit around and wait to be asked.
‘What can you do that needs doing (and isn’t going to happen otherwise) or could be improved? Again set yourself targets that will stretch you.’
Involve other people
What you find boring, someone else may find interesting. If there’s a task you particularly dislike, could you negotiate a slight change in job description with your manager, or exchange the task with a colleague – and do something they hate in return?
If you manage a team, could you use it as an opportunity for coaching or training?
‘This is not about dumping on others, so ensure your motives are positive with a genuine desire to meet their needs as well as your own,’ warns David. ‘Do it right, and giving others the chance to develop will demonstrate your management and leadership skills.’
Ideas to stay stimulated
Train, teach or consult. Sharing your knowledge with others will give you a welcome break from the day to day – and may remind you why you loved the job in the first place.
Find a mentor and become one yourself. Seek out positive, passionate people in the company – whether more senior or junior – enthusiasm and ambition are infectious.
Change your scenery. Environment has a big influence on our state of mind. Add a lamp, bright pictures, even a pot plant, to your work station. Schedule creative thinking sessions away from the office – fresh air and a change of scenery in a coffee shop can help.
Start a company newsletter or take on the role of social secretary. Start/take on wider tasks in the company – and ideally, get the duller aspects of your role ‘redistributed’.
Get training. Ask to go on training courses – in exchange for passing your knowledge to the rest of the team.
Keep meetings short. Long, drawn- out meetings are energy zappers. Offer to chair them yourself to keep them short.
Take a break. There’s a difference between chatting to co- workers all day and breaking up work sessions with a power walk or talking with someone who makes you laugh – especially if you come back refreshed.
Learning to Leap: A guide to being more employable by David Shindler
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