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How to Cope with a Boring Job
The Issue of Being Bored at Work
If you make it through your entire career without ever being bored at work, consider yourself lucky! Most of us have (or will have) a mind-numbing, soul-suckingly boring job at some point. While you may be grateful to even have that job in today's economy, it can still be a deeply depressing experience to spend most of your waking hours in a position that isn't challenging, where there's no work, or where you're bored for various other reasons.
Even the most boring of jobs can be given a positive spin, however--and in the meantime, you can learn to cope with and combat the boredom.
Coping with Work When You Have Nothing to Do
If you don't have many tasks or responsibilities at work, you may be wondering why the company hired you in the first place--and you'll definitely be trying to find innovative ways to pass the day! Unfortunately, there are only so many times you can make an errand to-do list, fold origami swans from sticky notes, or rearrange your desk decorations. Eventually you'll even run out of internet news to read.
So, how do you cope with that? Well, the easiest way is just to approach your manager and ask for more work! Oftentimes, if you don't speak up, the manager may assume you're busy and not approach you for help if they have extra work to pass out. Asking for work shows initiative and will usually be well-received.
If the manager doesn't have any projects for you, ask the manager if he or she would be willing to loan you out to another team or department. Is there something in particular at the job that you'd like to get experience in? Is there some skill you'd like to develop? If so, make your case with the manager. Be sure to emphasize that it won't interfere with your current duties, and also address how it will benefit both your personal growth and the company as a whole.
How often are you bored at work?
Coping with A Job Where the Work Itself Bores You
Another scenario may be where you have ample work, but the subject matter or process bores you. This can be just as miserable as not having any work to do at all!
To start solving the problem, pinpoint exactly what you don't like about the job. Is the subject matter too dry? Are your tasks repetitive and administrative? What could you change about the job to improve your happiness?
Once you've pinpointed why you're unhappy, then you can start thinking about how to fix the situation. If you're still interested in the industry itself (assuming you're in a corporate position), try transitioning to another department that more fits your interests. If you're not interested in the industry you're currently working in, think about what your ideal job is--and then how you can your current skills to gain entry into that industry.
Additional Tips for Coping with Boredom at Work
Other things you can do at work to alleviate boredom are:
- Listening to music on your headphones
- Breaking up the day by having lunch with a friend or co-worker
- Volunteering on any work committees or groups
- Dividing the day into units and enjoying rewards--a snack, a coffee break--when you hit the milestones
You can probably also imagine quite a few other things to ease boredom at work, but be careful about the perception you're creating--if you look like you're not working, you'll both make a bad impression and be vulnerable if layoffs happen.
"Office Space"...its depiction of work boredom is funny and depressingly true
Work Boredom: A Fact of Life?
Regardless of what life coaches and motivational speakers say, not everyone gets to chase their passion. That's not pessimism--it's reality. Sometimes the necessity of paying bills and supporting a family means the amount of the paycheck is more important than being fulfilled at work.
But that doesn't mean you have to just sit back and take boredom--there's plenty you can do while you search for the job that pays well and fills your days with happiness.