So there you sit, staring at a screen, or several. You’re frustrated, tired, on edge–and completely uninspired. “Boredom is an aversive state characterized by dissatisfaction, restlessness, and weariness,” Andreas Elpidorou, a University of Louisville researcher, noted in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. “Being in a state of boredom feels like being emotionally trapped.”
1. Embrace Your Boredom: It Fosters Creativity
If your job requires any kind of brainstorming or creative work, even once in a while, use your boring spells to foster creativity during that time. Letting your mind wander can help boost creative ideas, so the next time you’re feeling bored, give in to the urge (as long as nothing important is happening). In the end, boredom, distraction, and procrastination are vital to healthy living, so you don’t want to fight against them 24/7.
2. Take More Web Browsing Breaks (Seriously)
Chances are when you’re bored, you get tempted to browse the web and waste time. As long as you don’t go overboard, it’s okay to give in to that urge! In fact, some studies have shown that the occasional web surfing break actually increases productivity. After all, it’s really hard to stay focused for 8 hours straight.
Use your breaks wisely, but don’t feel too guilty about heading off to Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite tech- and productivity-oriented weblog during your workday.
3. Learn a New Skill During Work
If you do get some new responsibilities, you can learn a lot of new things from that, but even if you’re stuck to your boring grunt work, you can use that time to learn a new skill that’s interesting to you. Perhaps you can listen to educational podcasts while you work, learn a new language by changing the language on your favorite websites, or use your breaks to reinvigorate you with a personal project. Some personal projects may even integrate with your work—just make sure you know your company’s policies about pursuing personal projects on work time.
4. Make Your Meetings Worthwhile
Meetings are easily one of the most boring parts of your workday. Half the time they’re just wasting time you could be spending on real work. We’ve talked about how to make it through a boring meeting before, but the best thing you can do is attack the problem at its source and change how meetings are run. Talk to your manager and see if you can give your meetings some constraints to keep them moving, and make sure they have a very specific agenda. Heck, even going outside and taking a walking meeting can help keep everyone engaged.
5. Fight Exhaustion and Get Back to Work
Maybe the problem isn’t your work. Maybe you’re just exhausted and you don’t have the energy to do your work, so your boredom and your energy become a vicious cycle. Eating and sleeping right can help a lot, but performing a few quick exercises can help get your blood moving and wake you up, too. And, if your boss will let you, a standing desk can help energize you as well (not to mention a short power nap)