Let's face it: many people feel bored at work at one time or another. Even the most exciting projects and challenging tasks can start to feel routine. Being stuck in a routine at work, the absence of growth opportunities, and exhaustion are just a few reasons that this feeling of boredom can sneak up on you.
If you are experiencing boredom at work, there are ways to make effective changes, get a fresh perspective, or find a new way to build your career. If you find yourself thinking "I feel bored with my job" every now and then, pull up a chair, and let's explore this phenomenon together.
Reasons for feeling bored at work
The reasons you may find yourself feeling bored at work can vary. Maybe it’s tasks that are not challenging, the absence of opportunities to obtain new knowledge, the lack of recognition for your hard work, or some other reason. Here are a few things about your work routine that might lead to boredom:
- It's a mismatch. When our work doesn't match our aspirations and skills, it’s common to experience boredom, but sometimes we don't realize this is the cause. What were your primary motivators to accept your current job: was it the salary, a new domain, a desire to shake things up? The answers will help you identify your core motivation and any area of mismatch.
- Lack of growth and development opportunities. On the one hand, we master skills and enhance our professionalism and maturity by repeating the same activities. On the other, doing the same job routines for years may lead to boredom and even disappointment. It’s natural to want to develop, acquire adjacent or brand new skills, and try out new areas of expertise. If you lack these opportunities - boredom can come creeping in.
- Limited work scope. It can be overwhelming to be overloaded with work, yet not having enough work is another key reason that can cause you to be feeling bored at work. Too few assignments and the absence of clear deadlines can lead to your mind wandering off to somewhere else and feelings of stagnation.
- Repetitive work. While some people dream about a stress-free job, others get bored of monotonous or repetitive tasks easily and quickly find them unbearable. If you are not someone who enjoys the security of doing the same predictable thing every day, and you start to feel stuck in a rut, it may be time to ask your team leader about new responsibilities or a department transfer.
- No goal or purpose. Clear goals, priorities, and a sense of purpose at work are essential to well-being and productivity. They are "navigation tools" that help us focus on accomplishing a final goal. Without this 'north star,' at some point, you may feel lost and not see the reason for your work.
- Feeling exhausted. Personal issues (be they family, health, or other) may significantly sap your energy, leaving you with lower motivation and less energy for work.
“I’m bored with my job!”: the symptoms
Boredom at work can take many forms, some of which look similar to the signs of burnout or stress. Even if the feeling of being bored at work stems from other causes, someone bored at work may act similarly to a person experiencing exhaustion from stress. Symptoms may include:
- Low or no energy
- Frequently feeling irritated, cynical, or worthless
- Stretching even relatively simple tasks to fill an extended period of time
- Increasing absenteeism
- Demonstrating a lack of discipline
- Feelings of disengagement and apathy
- Demotivation, anxiety, and sadness
Harmful consequences or why you should cure boredom at work
Boredom at work is like the boiling frog story. In other words, boredom doesn’t hit full-force all at once. Instead, a person gradually finds themselves spending hours and days at work without realizing how unhappy they are. At first, boredom at work seems pretty innocent. However, it can lead to:
- "Brown-out" syndrome – demotivation caused by routine situations at work; it's the next stage after boredom and is associated with an existential crisis, a feeling that you no longer know why you are doing what you do
- Increased mistakes and sloppy work due to a lack of diligence
- Mental health issues including anxiety and depression resulting from a mismatch between your career aspirations and reality
- Unhealthy habits and risky behaviors in an effort to alleviate the boredom
- Negative stress, rooted in the feeling that you're wasting your skills and time on your work routine or even signs of chronic stress
- Emotional burnout, caused by extended periods of stress, disengagement, and a lack of fulfillment from your work
Simple steps to break free from boredom-inducing job routines
Now that you know more about why you might be feeling bored at work and why it's dangerous to ignore the feeling, let's figure out how to break the boredom-inducing cycle of your work routine and eliminate that “I’m bored with my job” feeling and restore some inspiration and motivation.
1. Learn new skills
Use available time at work to learn something new: read new articles relevant to your domain or work, take a course, or ask your teammates if they'd like to share their skills and experience in exchange for extra help from you. Expanding your knowledge is always a good idea, and it can give you a burst of enthusiasm as well.
2. Work in a new location
You may experience the 'bored-with-my-job' feeling as a result of the monotony of your daily routine. Changing aspects of your routine can help alleviate boredom. If you work from home, embrace the benefits that this model provides and switch up working from home with working from other places, like a co-working office or a nice coffee spot. Working in new places once a week or so can help you refresh your routine.
3. Reinvent your workspace
Another option for tackling boredom at work is to incorporate some creativity and personality into your workspace. Consider whether you can change or add anything to make it more comfortable, cozy, and personalized for you. Maybe you can replace your chair with a new one, buy some nice office products or plants, or even repaint the walls with different colors - go for it.
Sounds easy, right? Try these 3 simple steps and learn other productive things to do when bored at work to forget about being stuck in work routines forever.
Sometimes you can feel bored and bogged down by your work routine; that's part of reality. If the boredom lasts, or worsens, and is associated with feelings of apathy or stress, it's time to take steps to combat it. Don't let your boredom get you stuck, stressed, or burned out. We hope the tips from this blog post will help you with that!