Employees who are watching the clock and counting the hours until lunch or quitting time may be experiencing boredom at work.
According to Forbes magazine and a Robert Half blog, studies show that employees are bored roughly 10.5 hours of the work week. Reports from Glassdoor say one-quarter of office workers suffer from chronic boredom that can cause them to make mistakes and lose concentration. Boredom can be problematic in a culture that values constant productivity and engagement. When bottom lines are affected by boredom, it benefits both employers and employees to find ways to make the workday more engaging.
1. Focus on tasks and not time
Waiting around for a fixed time to do something or leave for the day can adversely affect productivity. According to Psychology Today, when hungry lab rats are required to wait around until a set time to get food by pressing a lever, they become lethargic. The same may apply to workers waiting for a fixed lunch hour or time to go home. However, setting goals that focus on tasks rather than a particular time can lead to more animation and productivity. This may mean a programmer handles a certain number of lines of code before taking a coffee break or a teacher can grade a certain percentage of essays before calling it a night. Focusing on a task can help workers forget about the time, and reduce boredom in the process.
2. Change your commute
A frustrating and tiring commute can lead workers to be irritable and exhausted before the work day even begins. Find different ways to work, even if it means leaving a bit earlier to avoid traffic. Changing the scenery each day may help alleviate boredom before it begins in the workplace.
3. Modify work spaces
If staring at a cubicle wall leaves you in a daze, ask to have your seat moved to a new location. A simple change that offers a fresh view may fend off boredom. If a move isn’t possible, redecorate the office or cubicle. Subtle changes may inspire you to be more focused.
4. Ask for a challenging project
Sometimes doing the same tasks by rote can quash creativity and lead to boredom. Ask the boss for more diversified tasks. Or volunteer to be part of a project that interests you – even if it’s outside of your wheelhouse.
5. Get more sleep
Poor rest can affect decision-making and innovative thinking, according to a study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Just one night without sleep can impair your ability to perform tasks that require flexible thinking and updating of plans in light of new information, says the study. A good night’s rest can reduce fatigue and may help workers overcome boredom during the workday.
Boredom at work can be problematic, but there are strategies to make a workday more engaging.