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Managing the boredom factor at work

Insufficient work could be a problem

Gulf News

Unfortunately, we all have to sometimes deal with boring, routine tasks. Those are the days when the clock ticks by so slowly you can actually see the hands move.

We all know that we get stressed when there is too much to do but do we really appreciate the ‘rust out’ factor i.e. when there is insufficient work to keep our attention. It can be equally stressful. In such situations, we psyche ourselves to go to work in the morning but our energy levels stay may stay low all day. Then, when we go home at night, we can be tired and listless because we have received little stimulus during the day.

However, you are doing your job for a reason and that reason is probably an economic one, because you need to pay the rent, buy food and clothes and look after your children. The plain fact is that not everyone enjoys the work that they do, although most of us do try to find a job that stimulates and keeps our interest.

If you do have a boring job, try and be creative in the way that you manage it. Think ‘outside of the box’ in the way that you do things and you may be able to make your job different and more stimulating.

Maybe try to rotate certain aspects of your work so that you see different people in different departments on different days, all of which can bring about stimulating conversations about home, family life and interests.

Set yourself realistic goals. If your goals are unattainable, then you are setting yourself up to fail and you certainly don’t want to do that. So set yourself goals that will stretch your mind but are achievable.

Take your breaks during the day and plan what you are going to do with them. When it’s time for your lunch break, think in advance as to what you are going to do and use this time to recharge your batteries. Maybe take a walk and eat your sandwiches somewhere different.

Start up conversations with people that you don’t know. They may have interesting stories to tell you of a recent experience. You might learn something new and you may even find yourself a new friend.

Chunk your time into two-hour blocks. Give yourself set periods of time to complete a task and when it is complete, assess what you have done and how pleased you are with the result. You may or may not get praise from someone else, so you will need to give yourself a positive ‘pat on the back’ to see you through. Of course, it is always nice if we get recognition but our job satisfaction should not depend on it.

Repetitive tasks can cause boredom because they demand a minimum of attention while providing little brain stimulation. But try and follow the work through to the end so that you have the satisfaction of seeing the finished task or product.

Try and mix with people who are different to yourself so that you are stimulated by the way they express themselves or their new ideas or perspectives on different subjects.

Additional stimulation can help with boredom and listening to music for example can help to maintain alertness for a strictly visual job, such as driving. But it’s important the additional stimulation does not compete with the attention required to complete the task.

‘Mind over matter’ is not always an easy concept but is an important one to understand. Be grateful for the fact that you do have a job. Think of it as a step on your journey through life and that this is one of those roads down which you need to travel in order to get to the more exciting and stimulating highways that lead on to more open exciting places and opportunities.

However, that is not to say that those opportunities are not also available in the organisation or company in which you already work. Remember, every job at every level has routine, boring aspects.

At the end of the day, try to not let your boredom affect your performance and productivity otherwise you may be required to become more concerned with how you manage to pay the bills without a pay cheque coming in each month.

Key Points

1. Most work has boring aspects to it

2. Be creative to get more stimulation

3. ‘Rust out’ can be equally as stressful as work overload

— The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact the consultancy for proven stress strategies: www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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