Watercooler Work-Life Balance

What to Do When You’re Bored at Work

Written by Kate Lopaze

There can be any number of reasons you’re feeling bored at work. If it’s just a lull in your to-do list, maybe it’s temporary. If it’s more of a chronic case of “I-hate-this-job-itis,” well, you should certainly start thinking about looking for a new job. But in either case, it can be a dangerous habit to fall into. Here are some tips to save yourself before you fall into a full-on goof-off cycle.

1. Find something new to do.

This doesn’t mean you should take online Spanish lessons while your company expects you to be working diligently at your desk. Rather, find something of value that you can learn from your workplace. Whether that’s picking up a new skill from another department or talking with colleagues to pick their brains on their own expertises, take this as an opportunity to boost your professional development. Just make sure that your off-the-record professional development doesn’t start displacing your regular work duties (you know, the ones you’re being paid to do).

2. Reward yourself.

Completing that report on time may not earn you the applause of your manager, but you can come up with your own reward system. Say, “when I complete this task, then I can get coffee,” or allow yourself 10 minutes of down time for checking something major off your to-do list. It’s a way of staying in the game enough to get things done, even when your head or heart might not be. If things get really desperate, there’s always the good, old-fashioned candy reward that’s popular with kids and bored professionals alike.

3. Come up with an escape plan.

If your case of “I-hate-this-job-itis” is a serious one, then even the act of figuring out your next steps can have a rejuvenating effect. Even the most tedious or soul-crushing work activities aren’t so bad if you know you won’t be doing them forever.

4. Shoot for “good enough.”

Sometimes a C+ is good enough, especially if you’re in danger of flunking. It’s not great to make a habit of doing the bare minimum, but if you feel yourself checking out, create a list of the parts of your job that are absolutely “must do” so that you’re maintaining until things get better.

5. Do some networking in your field.

Meeting and talking to new people in your field can introduce new opportunities. It can also help you remember what you liked about this field in the first place, and why you chose this job. Either way, it brings something (or someone) fresh into the staleness of your routine.

Even if you’re halfway out the door and already looking for other opportunities, it’s important not to let your reputation lapse into slackerdom. If you feel yourself starting to check out, there are ways to slow it down before the blahs affect your job performance or work relationships.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.