Holiday period? How not to get bored at work!
By Mare Derks | July 24, 2019
9 Tips on how to switch the fun on during the off-season
What are you going to do this summer? Have you planned a vacation, but only in September, or maybe you already had your days off? Besides those few beach days or festivals, you are simply “stuck” in the office. If this is also your prospect, then you are faced with an important decision as an employee. Are you heading into a summer at work filled with boredom, or are you opting for freedom, development and even productivity?
In this blog, I will try to steer you to consciously choose this last option. At 2DAYSMOOD we help organizations and their employees to continuously become aware and improve their moods at work. Through scientific insights and practical tips, we give every employee the tools to flourish in his or her position.
Down below I have compiled a variety of 9 tips for you, so that you too can flourish this summer, and recognize, tackle and prevent boredom at work!
Why is boredom at work dangerous?
Before I give you the “anti-boredom” tips, let’s take a step back. Is boredom at work really such a big problem? According to an American survey on 382 office workers and 307 senior executives, it appears that employees get bored at work 10.5 hours a week and that 2 in 5 employees would quit their job if they were to get bored (OfficeTeam, 2017). Those are already quite heavy figures.
But it can get even worse … Namely, if you have been inherently bored in your position for a long time. This can sometimes lead to a bore-out. A bore-out can be seen as a burn-out due to boredom. According to research by the Flemish doctor and burn-out specialist Luc Swinnen, 15% of employees have to deal with problems related to a burn-out or bore-out. Half of the cases are about a bore-out. Briefly summarized, you can divide the bore-out into two types: either there is a lot of work, but it is not satisfying, or there is too little work, it is too easy or too monotonous (Frouke Vermeulen, 2015).
Negative consequences of boredom at work
Suffering from boredom at work or a bore-out is not just annoying for the employee. (Of course it is not easy to feel stressed, lifeless, irritable or even depressed 5 days a week). The consequences are also extremely harmful to the employer. Think of poorer performances (procrastination), decreasing productivity (being busy with social media or other private matters) and increasing absenteeism due to tiredness, stress and general lower engagement (lack of interest in work).
Boredom at work can always occur and can happen to anyone. However, the start of the quiet holiday period has made many employees more susceptible to that boredom. Fortunately, you yourself can ensure that boredom does not become permanent or develops into a bore-out. With the tips below you can even turn it into a source of satisfaction!
“In some cases of boredom or bore-out, there is a lot of work to do, but it is not satisfactory. Then it helps to work more “brain-friendly” within the tasks that you have.”
Three tips for recognizing boredom at work
How do you know if you are really struggling with structural boredom, or that you might even be dealing with a bore-out? It is often quite difficult to determine why you are not feeling well during work. As mentioned above, boredom often has to do with a lack of variety, satisfaction or a challenge. Ask yourself these questions to discover where your pain points are.
TIP 1: Do you work on alternating tasks?
You can make this very practical. Keep track of the tasks you have worked on every day for a week. Give the tasks 2 labels at the end of the day. A label for the type of work (consultation, administration, project x, problem-solving, development, etc.). And a color label for how much you like the task (green or red). After a week you will have a nice overview and you can analyze whether you find your work varied and enjoyable enough. If you are used to keeping track of your weekly planning, you can do this retroactively.
TIP 2: Do you work with concentration?
When you are constantly distracted or are looking for ways to distract yourself by constantly changing tasks or surfing the internet aimlessly, this can be a signal of boredom. Find out where your “concentration leak” is. The (Dutch) book “Focus On / Off” describes four types of concentration leaks: too few stimuli, too few energy resources, too many internal stimuli, too many external stimuli. Can you easily close your “leak” in order to get more satisfaction out of finishing tasks?
TIP 3: Do you work within your talents?
Research shows that people who can work through their strengths are 3 times more likely to evaluate their quality of life as “great”. It’s good to check whether you also use your talents in your daily work. For example, do a Clifton Strengths Assessment or another online talent scan.
“You can use the gain in time and autonomy that you have in the off-season to create an “anti-boredom strategy” for yourself.”
Three tips to tackle boredom at work
TIP 4: Use your freedom for development
If you experience a quiet period at work during summertime, you often automatically have more time and freedom (autonomy). Besides that, there are also fewer external incentives that keep you busy: apps, social media, etc. It is actually the ideal situation to start something productive in a focused manner. So why not spend that time on yourself! Learn a new skill or read the whitepaper that you downloaded a month ago, participate in webinars or other online courses. Learning and developing yourself is essential for your happiness at work. (It is a proven driver in the Employee Happiness Model of 2DAYSMOOD after all)
TIP 5: Work more “brain-friendly”
In some cases of boredom or having a bore-out, there is a lot of work to do but it is simply not satisfactory. Then it can be useful to work more “brain-friendly” within the tasks that you have. Sometimes you just have to complete tasks or projects, because they are part of your job and responsibilities. Think of things that have been promised to customers or colleagues! Is there a way to perform those tasks with more relaxation and satisfaction? The three commandments of brain-friendly working, according to a (Dutch) blog from Marketing Agency Stramark, are: eradicate task changing, protect thinking/brainwork and disconnect for archiving. They can be saviors for both boredom and stress.
TIP 6: Let’s get physical!
With this last tackling tip you hit two birds with one stone. Do you have a storage room in the office that needs to be cleaned up, a photo wall that needs to be decorated, or do you finally want to hang up some greenery on the ceiling? Just do it! But it’s more fun to do it together with colleagues. Perhaps you should do it with precisely those colleagues that you do not often talk to. Physical labor and a tidy environment can give a lot of positive energy and satisfaction. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your colleagues.
Three tips to prevent boredom at work
TIP 7: Do preparatory work
Are you continuously bored at work during the summer? Step in at the right moment to make sure that this does not persist or deteriorate after the summer. To prevent this, you can use the time savings and autonomy that you have gained in the off-season, to create a future “anti-boredom strategy” for yourself. You have time to redesign your work processes, structurally adjust your weekly or monthly planning, revise your work-life balance, network internally or externally, implement a new tool, innovate, etc.? Think about what you can invest in now, to work more efficiently, concentrated, varied and with more energy and fun in September.
TIP 8: Go on an internal road trip!
While a large part of your colleagues is vacationing in the South American jungle or at the Côte d’Azur, you can also take a trip. Have you concluded that there is too little variety in your tasks? Or that you no longer get any positive energy from them? Then take an internal road trip during the summer period. Visit other teams and departments and see which activities or working methods appeal to you in those places. Perhaps you can bring more balance in your own job position and challenge yourself by taking some fun work out of other teams’ hands.
TIP 9: Link your daily goals to values
You have probably heard before that setting daily goals works. And it works even better if you also write those goals down (as proven by this study). Sounds pretty easy right? But if you want to continue to get satisfaction from your work in the long term, it is smart to link those daily goals to personal higher goals. (This is also recommended by author and personal development expert Brian Tracy). What are your values, your motives, your motto for life? Make sure that they are visible in a certain way, also at work. (For example, a photo of your family as a screen saver?). In this way, every time you rip that ‘done’ post-it off the wall or cross out an achievement in your notebook, you can also remind yourself that you are one step closer to your desired vision of life. Now that’s satisfying!