There was a period of time over the summer when every channel was playing this Geico commercial on repeat:
Hump day – you can just hear the agony in the way poor Leslie mutters those words.
Wednesdays can be particularly dreary for anyone (and by that I mean everyone) who looks forward to Friday afternoons, the one day of the week you crawl over to tumble towards the shining beacon of light that we call the weekend.
I’m not saying it’s true every week, but unless your co-worker’s a camel, it’s rare to see faces of excitement in the middle of the week.
Now, the reason for this may vary, but most of the times, it’s because you’re simply bored at work.
Once even a hint of boredom settles in your mind, it’s hard to recover: you start to lose focus, your productivity goes down the drain, and most importantly, it becomes increasingly difficult to have fun at the office.
We all know that a little gamification can go a long way in relieving the dullness of your work, but what can you do individually to keep things exciting?
If you are bored at work, here are three ways you can cure boredom the workplace.
1. Shake Things Up – Change up Your Work/Daily Routine
The easiest way to kill boredom is to change up your daily routine at the office. Of course, this is no easy task – there is a clear reason for why you have a routine in the first place.
But by making little adjustments to your usual habit and setting like changing the way you commute or redecorating your cubicle/office can have a huge impact on how you see your day.
Even changing up your routine outside of work like how you sleep and how you exercise can help you have a brighter outlook and ultimately, a more exciting time at the office.
If exhaustion is why you feel so bored at work, then maybe add in some physical activities to your daily schedule.
For instance, take a couple of minutes throughout the day to perform a few quick and simple exercises and get your blood flowing.
I’m not saying you need to start training Rocky Balboa style in your cubicle, but doing a couple sets of push-ups or core exercises or even just static stretching can help you stay alert and fight off fatigue.
Of course, you might be tempted to just drink a cup of coffee instead and treat caffeine like your new best friend, but if you are already a regular at your local Starbucks, an afternoon shot of espresso won’t always be very effective and can even hinder your productivity.
Instead, why not just try and switch to a new, healthier diet? Being more conscious of what and how much you eat can give you an extra boost to refresh your mind.
2. Be Proactive – Seek More Responsibilities
The root of most boredom is often an insufficient stimulation of the tasks you are assigned.
We’ve all had to deal with these sort of responsibilities: it’s the kind of dull, monotone work that keeps you focused not on your actual job, but on the amount of time you have left until 5:00 PM.
They may have been exciting to do as an entrance-level employee, but after a while, the same old process can become increasingly duller by the day.
Now, what you can do to fix it is to be more proactive and actively seek out new responsibilities.
Often times, there are more opportunities available for you to contribute than you may realize, and these may be the projects that may just make you look forward to work again.
This may not be an easy task, as you will have to find within yourself the motivation to become detached to what is familiar. But taking on new, unfamiliar challenges is exciting in and of itself, and assuming more roles in the office can only keep things more interesting, not less.
It may be the case, however, that your problem isn’t that you are not kept busy, but that you are kept busy with work that you think constitutes nothing really substantial.
If this is the case, a part of the responsibility will fall on the company to articulate its mission to its employees and cultivate a more sound corporate culture (See Google’s 7 secrets to their awesome organizational culture for reference).
But you as the employee must also recognize that there is a greater meaning behind what you do, and your contribution, however trivial it may seem at the time, has immense impact on the company’s success.
3. If All Else Fails…Embrace Being Bored At Work
A recent study presented at the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology found that boredom may actually boost a person’s creativity.
Researchers divided 80 participants into two groups, asking the experimental group to copy out numbers from a telephone book for 15 minutes – an undeniably mundane task.
Afterwards, the two groups were asked to come up with different uses for a pair of polystyrene cups.
Surprisingly, the results showed that those who suffered through the boring task tended to think of more creative uses for the cups than the control group.
The gist of the experiment’s conclusion was that passive tedious activities like reading out numbers or attending meetings prompt more daydreams.
Daydreams, as suggested by previous experiments, are opportunities to improve your working memory, “the mental work space that allows the brain to juggle multiple thoughts at once.”
In other words, your fantasies of endless vacations in paradise are ways to stimulate your brain in times of utter boredom. It is in these times of solitary contemplation that some of the best solutions to the challenges you face may come about.
Author Edward de Bono dubbed these moments as “creative pauses” – be it in the pool, in the shower, these are instances when we are purely thinking, when we can’t help but to push our creative boundaries.
In essence, they are the only times when we are the very source of stimulation we rely too often on outside forces to find (e.g. scrolling through our phones when we’re bored waiting for somebody).
So the next time you’re bored at work and start spacing out, try and enjoy the opportunity for your mind to wander.
Let it drift into some distant fantasy, and maybe you’ll stumble upon an answer you’ve been looking for, a solution that may even help you get excited about work again.
Of course, these simple steps aren’t instant panacea to keeping you forever enthusiastic about your work.
Ultimately, it is your outlook that will be the best solution in helping you if you’re bored at work. Recognize the value in your daily accomplishments – how each task you complete not only contributes to meeting the company’s goals, but aids in your own personal growth. Fall in love with the process of it all, and your day will feel all the more exciting.
What do you do keep yourself from being bored at work?
Let me know your thoughts on twitter @Officevibe.