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I'm bored in my job [Online learning and other options to help]

BY: SGI|18 January 2019
BLOG| My future career

If you’re bored at work, you need to get a little self-reflective to understand why. Are you consistently feeling irritable and unproductive? Or is it a particular project that’s got you feeling the boredom itch? Are you just feeling frustrated at work or in other facets of your life as well? 

Diagnose the feeling and try to point to what’s triggering it. Write it all down and consider chatting to a colleague, manager, mentor or friend if you need a bit of perspective from someone else.

Some key things to note about boredom, based on facts from Psychology Today:

  • Firstly, you need to have sufficient psychological energy to be bored. The problem isn’t lack of energy, it’s lack of anything engaging enough to devote that energy to.
  • Boredom is linked to trouble focusing, which could be caused by your own state of mind, rather than the environment around you. Stress, for example, makes concentrating tricky.
  • The more you try to amuse yourself by letting your mind wander, the more bored you’ll probably feel.
  • It also comes back to control. “Boredom happens when you can’t change the situation.”
  • You’ll tend to dislike things synonymous with the feeling of boredom. So, you’ll direct negative emotions to the object of boredom, rather than the feeling of boredom itself.

One school of thought pits boredom as a good thing. Hard to believe right? The idea is that boredom becomes a catalyst for change by indicating when you need an extra push to set new goals and pursue a different kind of project/ career path.

Bored at work? Here are five potential solves:

1. Get to the bottom of why you’re bored

Write down potential reasons and then analyse these to understand whether it’s a short-term situation or long-term sustained frustration. Is it rooted in personal or professional factors? Take a step back and visualise what fulfillment looks like to you. When do you feel happiest and most productive? Now, how can you replace boredom with more feelings of fulfillment?

2. Set new goals

This is essential. Come up with a set of big and small challenges that really stretch your skills. These could include anything from finding a new hobby and doing an online course to asking for a promotion and practicing meditation every day. Then you’ll have something productive to direct your energy towards.

3. Shift from self to others

Forbes suggests a shift to an outward-looking focus that zooms in on how you can create something with a positive impact for others. There’s an obvious link between boredom and selfishness, so try to break that bond. Plus, Forbes says 88% of award-winning projects start with question, “What impact can I create that others will love?”

4. Get up from your desk

Go and chat to a colleague. Really make an effort to connect. Or head off on a 30-minute walk in your lunch break. UK research suggests that employees who take 30-minute strolls three times a week are more enthusiastic and relaxed, with less anxiety. Also, stop eating lunch at your desk. If you can’t leave your desk then listen to music for 10 to 15 minutes or try to solve a Sudoku.

5. Talk about it

If your boredom isn’t a passing fad and you know it’s job-linked, then chat to your line manager or CEO. Identify why you’re feeling bored and be honest about these reasons; but frame them less as complaints and more as an opportunity to ask for new challenges and a clearly defined growth plan. Remember, you have to put your hand up for more responsibility. Chat about whether you could move into a management role, for example, and whether there’s a project management or online management course you could do to accrue the skills you’ll need.

The last resort is to look for a new job. If you’ve exhausted your options, chatted to team leads and still don’t feel satisfied that you’ll find fulfillment, then perhaps start putting out feelers to see what other opportunities are out there.

Perhaps the biggest antidote to boredom is to take back control. See how the Stellenbosch Graduate Institute can provide ongoing online learning opportunities to help you tackle the new challenges you set yourself.

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