Bored at work? If yes, listen to this podcast about being bored at work. If no, get to work.
If You’re Bored At Work
JUSTIN: How the hell can a person go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, and have nothing to say?
JUSTIN: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. Today's topic: what to do if you are bored at work. Now, today's podcast is going to have two parts. Part one is going to focus on: why are you bored? Part two is gonna focus on four specific ways to take advantage of being bored at work. Okay, part one. Let's get to work.
JUSTIN: Why are you bored at work? Maybe you've been doing your job for a long time and it's too easy for you. Maybe you've lost interest in what you're doing. Maybe they re-orgged and now you don't have as much responsibility as you used to have, so things are just easier to get done, and you don't know how to fill your time. Whatever the reason, being bored at work is not much fun. People may think it's fun, because people may think that being bored is the same as having an easy job. And people may equate an easy job with having a good job. The thinking is that because you're not working hard, it must be a good job.
But if you've ever been bored at work, you know it isn't fun at all. In fact, it's painful. It's so slow. It's life-sucking. In short, it's boring. So before we talk about how to fix or take advantage of the situation, it's helpful to pause and ask yourself: why am I bored?
The most common situation that leads to boredom is when you've been doing the same job for an extended period of time. Doing the same job over and over and over and over and over again is robotic. It's hardly human. There's a reason that repetitive tasks are replaced by machines. Machines love repetition. Machines thrive with repetition. Humans, on the other hand -- we get bored with repetition. We lose interest with repetition. The end result being: we don't do as good a job as we did at the beginning when we first were doing that task, because we were interested or it was challenging, or it was new. My point is simply this: don't dwell in your boredom. Do something about it. Now, it starts with being able to answer the question: why am I bored?
Now, here's what I want you to do. Take 30 minutes. Take three pieces of blank paper. Go into a quiet room. Now, remember, you're bored, so you should have time to do this. Go into the quiet room, write a question at the top of the page in big writing: why am I bored? Now I want you to sit there and start writing. Don't think, don't edit, don't organize. Just write every reason that comes in your mind.
Okay. Now look at your list. What does it tell you? Maybe it tells you you don't like your current job. Maybe it tells you you don't like the current industry you're working in. Maybe it tells you you don't like your company. Or your boss. Or your current responsibilities. The point is, knowledge is power. Before you can go about fixing your problem -- and make no mistake, boredom is a problem -- before you can fix this problem, you need to know what the problem is. So that's why I want you to identify it.
So let's look at a couple examples. Maybe you're not learning anything new. Guess what? Go tell your boss. There's always special projects that bosses are happy to hand over or create for you. I mean, in essence, you're asking the boss: can I take work off your plate, or can I have more work? Everyone's gonna be happy with that, including you. Cause it's gonna break the monotony, it's gonna break the boredom. So if your reason is you're not learning anything new, go tell your boss you feel like you're plateaued, and you want to learn something new.
Now, another reason might be: you're not interested in what you're doing anymore. In this case, go get another piece of paper and make a list of what you are interested in. Maybe there's other roles at the same company that you might like to be doing. Maybe you have to look outside that company. Either way, you need to control your own destiny. If you're experiencing boredom at work, it's a symptom of something bigger. So stop what you're doing and figure out why you are bored. This is it for part one of the podcast.
05:11 Moving on to part two: how to take advantage of being bored at work. Sometimes it's okay to be bored at work. Sometimes you deserve it. The key is: how do you take advantage of the situation? Most people make the mistake of coasting through the boredom, until it inevitably ends with a promotion, a re-org, or getting fired. This is a lost opportunity.
Instead, if you're bored at work, I want you do at least one of these four things. Option one: start exercising more: physical fitness. Getting in shape, getting endorphins running through your body is gonna bring you more energy and bring you more enthusiasm in what you do on a day-to-day basis.
Option two: pursue a new hobby. Is there something that you've always wanted to do? Learn to play the piano. Be a beekeeper. Take pottery. Paint. Acting. Tennis. Photography. Whatever it is you want to do. Even if you want to be a stand-up comic, use this as an opportunity to pursue a new hobby that you've been putting off. Take advantage of this down time, this boring time, to acquire a new skill. Even if it's something that's related to your job or your industry or your work, go out and take a night class. It's gonna help you. It's gonna help your career. It's gonna make you feel more motivated. It's gonna fill up time. It's gonna be good for you.
Option three: volunteer. Now, here's the thing. If you're feeling sorry for yourself because you aren't loving your current job, perhaps the best thing you can do is go volunteer somewhere. Get a new perspective. Be reminded that you're lucky to have a job. You're lucky to have your health. You're lucky to have your family. And being bored at work is not the worst thing in the world. So get a little bit of a new perspective, and give some time to somebody else.
Option four: think. Be quiet. Be still. Think. It's rare to have down time in today's world. If you're bored at work, take advantage of your situation and create specific room, specific time, to allow yourself to be quiet. To think.
And this brings me to my key point: no matter which of these four options you choose, you have to structurally change your day-to-day life to accommodate these options. Don't pay it lip service. Don't pretend. Don't be lazy. Actually do it. It's simple. All you have to do is mention to your boss that you've decided that you want to do X. Whatever it is, whether it's volunteer, start a hobby, get healthier. Whatever it is you want to do, just mention it to your boss, and then say, in order to do that, you're going to blank. And the blank means you're going to leave work early on Wednesdays and Fridays in order to go to class. Or, I'm gonna arrive to work at 8:30 instead of 8:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays because I'm taking this class in the mornings. Here's the class I'm taking, here's why I'm taking it. Whatever the case may be, be specific. I want to do X, so I will Y. As long as you can articulate the what, the why, and that you have a plan, you're organized, 100 percent of bosses will say yes.
You see what we did here? We turned your boredom into a new hobby, a new perspective, a new self-awareness, a new career. Boom! Make a plan, set up the structure, structurally change your behavior, and then be awesome.
Now, before I go, I just want to add that it's okay to be bored sometimes. Life comes and goes. Work ebbs and flows. So if you find yourself in a lull, take advantage of it. Trust me, there'll be plenty of days, plenty of weeks, plenty of years where work gets the better of you. So if you find yourself with a little bit of an extra time, indulge. Take advantage. Do something that will make you feel good about yourself. But don't live in the perpetual boredom. That's not good for you, that's not good for your career. It's not good for your team. Trust me: other people know if you're bored or not interested in what you're doing. It's not good for your family. It's not good for the people around you.
Cause the thing is, if you're bored, it probably means you're boring. You're probably talking about the same things 10:00 all the time. Or every time you hang out, you have nothing new to add to the conversation. So don't be boring. Don't be afraid of having extra time, but don't be boring. Go do something with this. This is an opportunity for you.
Alright, now I opened up today's show with one of my favorite songs of all time. It's Angel from Montgomery. And I particularly like the Bonnie Raitt version. And you heard me talk about how the hell can a person go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, and have nothing to say? I want you to think about those words. Maybe you don't even realize you're bored at work. Maybe you don't even realize you've become boring. What are you doing with your life? Life's too short for you just to be going through the motions. So go out there, change something, and go do something that you get really excited about. Even if it's only something that you do 30 minutes a week, I promise you, it's gonna change your whole perspective at work, it's gonna change your whole interactions with your team. Everyone's gonna benefit from it. So that's it. Go get to work.
Before we go, I just want to make sure I always thank my awesome producer, Rob Schulte. Rob, you've been living in New York for nine months now?
JUSTIN: Eleven months! And how's it going?
JUSTIN: Yeah? How many different podcasts do you produce?
ROB: At least nine.
JUSTIN: At least nine? My gosh, are you like the world's greatest podcast producer, or just the busiest?
ROB: I would put myself up there with busy. Maybe not the greatest yet, cause I'm learning every day.
JUSTIN: Oh, snap! Alright, Rob, thanks as always. Shoutout to everybody, be sure to hit me on the social channels, mr_corpo. Send me emails with your work quandaries at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and by the way, one of our listeners gave me this great idea, and I'm thinking of implementing it, but I'd like to hear a little feedback on what -- what the listeners think. A 1-800-Mr-Corpo hotline. If you have an urgent matter that's happened at work, someone's come in at work and said you're getting promoted, and you gotta negotiate salary tonight. Or you've been fired and you don't know what to do. Or your boss just said something to you and is totally driving you crazy and you have no idea what's happening. Of course you can email me at email@example.com. But imagine if there was a hotline where you could call and I would answer the phone in real time, and give you the what's what. I thought it was a great idea. I'm gonna talk to Rob about how we implement this. But 1-800-Mr-Corpo, coming to a phone near you.