How To Combat Boredom At Work

Got that heavy feeling in your stomach? On your way to work for yet another day of utter boredom.

Struuuuuth. Give me strength” I can hear you saying.

I just gotta do it, cos it pays my bills.”

LOL. Well, not really lol!

Childhood Development

I remember when I was a kid. You would hear some adults say

“It’s probably healthy and a good thing to experience boredom and be with yourself, in your own company and learn how to handle it”.

In hindsight, that might just be so, when you are a child in full development, discovering the world.

You often see babies who receive a present. They are much more preoccupied with the wrapping paper and Sellotape than the actual gift. At that age, we get such a kick out of

  • Touching and feeling the texture
  • observing the colour
  • listening to the sound of paper being crumpled
  • licking and tasting the dry, shiny wrapping paper

all this, whilst emitting joyful and animalistic onomatopoeia.

You can keep your teddy and the funky bib. Just give me your car keys! They jingle, they jangle, they rattle, they chink, they shiiiiiiiine. Preeeeeeeeecioouuuuussss.

We are truly “CURIOUS BEINGS”.

Our greatest window of opportunity

  • to taste
  • to sip
  • to have a go at
  • to have a crack at
  • to take a bite out of
  • to try our hand at
  • to discover

new things, is during our childhood, our youth.

Instinct provides us with the desire to learn and once we have “done the rounds” and have become familiar with an object, with a subject, with an occupation, we are naturally designed to want to evolve and move on to something different.

I know our parents and teachers exhorted us to make the most of these moments.

Little did we realise at that age, that this period in our life was , for most, probably the last chance to be the Jack-Of-All-Trades, a great all-rounder.

Pushed into specialisation

Our minds and our energy are funnelled into becoming more specialised and less and less broad.

What a pity!

I would argue that this curiosity is gently and slowly but surely, extracted from us, as we are “socially” programmed to conform in a society that demands certain behaviour and demands that we choose our future path at an early age.

We live in a world where the need for specialisation is almost forced upon us.

Oh Adam! Where did all the creativity go?

Adam Smith would argue in his ‘Wealth of Nations’ that efficient productivity could not necessarily be attained by chopping and regularly changing tasks to produce a widget. A Jack-Of-All-Trades could potentially execute all the tasks. However, if the different tasks were shared out between different people (Division of Labour), each person would become a specialist in that particular task. Globally, the production process would be helped along and speeded up thanks to this specialisation.

He was undoubtedly correct in his analysis, as shown by years of ever-increasing efficient production applying these concepts.

However, it could be said that Adam’s approach did somewhat take away the creativity from the average worker. It could be understandable that certain specialised tasks could drive one to boredom due to lack of variety and the sheer repetition.

Boredom in our modern-day life

I am starting to diverge from our topic. Let’s get back to modern-day life. Boredom can come in several forms:

  • Repetition
  • feeling under-used
  • feeling ill-used, undervalued, underappreciated
  • not working in a domain that is in line with your level of education
  • not understanding what your role is in the organisation

At work, I believe we all could do with a variety of assignments, some taking up a significant time at work and others could considered as fillers.

There is nothing worse than having too many “critical” and heavy assignments on-the-go simultaneously. This can lead to overwhelm, stress and potential failure.

Fillers can be great just to switch into free-wheel mode between two major assignments. These fillers can be done quickly and efficiently and can prevent your brain from going into overload and burnout. However, if you only have fillers, you can rapidly get that feeling of under-utilisation.

Working in silos, can also lead to a feeling of detachment to what is going on elsewhere in the organisation. This could include an unwillingness to share information and to refuse collaboration with colleagues or with other teams.

For certain co-workers, this could in turn provoke a feeling of lack of belonging to the organisation. When workers do not understand what is going on in the team in the same open-space or department in a factory, they can “switch off”, lose motivation and rapidly no longer give a hoot about what is going on around them. It is probably worse still, if this is happening between workers within the same team.

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Boredom sets in

For some workers, this can be the beginning of the end of their stay in this organisation.

On a lighter level, if you could do with a bit of laughotherapy, this video should at least give you a giggle or two as you appreciate the creativity used by people to overcome boredom in the work place. However, I would not recommend you apply any of these methods, except in extreme circumstances.

“Hilarious Examples Of What Happens When People Are Bored At Work”

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