Being bored at work stinks.
It can happen for many reasons, too, and none of them are good. You may be over-qualified for your job so that you have no challenge and too much free time to do nothing. You may have strict rules that keep you tied to your desk and working to the clock, even if there are no tasks to do. Or you may simply not have enough business to keep you occupied, especially in today’s world economy.
There are different ways to deal with boredom. Most people waste their downtime on unproductive activities like watching silly videos or falling down a social media rabbit hole.
But in this article, I’m going to suggest a bunch of ways to be productive instead. Because successfully getting things done will definitely kill the boredom.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at what to do when bored at work.
- Help Others
- Make a Formal Proposal
- Clean Out Your Inbox
- Rearrange Your Workspace
- Educate Yourself
- Look for Something New
- Is The Boredom Making You Think of a Change of Career?
- 7 Productive Ways to Alleviate Boredom at Work
If this isn’t the first thing, you think of when you’re bored at work, shame on you!
Just kidding. But it sure is a great way to deal with boredom, increase your team’s overall productivity, and make friends, too. Now, we all have one or two people on our work teams who are consistently slow or even late turning over their work. Their reasons can vary – maybe they’re a bit under-qualified and struggling, maybe they’re highly distracted, or maybe they’re disproportionately overburdened with work.
Approaching these people with an offer to help when you have free time will make their day for sure. Just be certain that you can offer some real help rather than taking even more of their time by distracting them.
And also, be a bit tactful with this one…
Helping out other colleagues when you’re free can really give them a hand and definitely get rid of your boredom. BUT don’t do it too often. If you do, you run the risk of having a whole bunch of their work permanently shifted onto your plate – you could end up overworked while they’re left bored!
OK, I know this is industry jargon and doesn’t have any specific meaning, but you can use this ambiguity to your advantage.
Think about anything in your day to day workflow that you can do more efficiently. It could range anywhere from installing a new app that will make your job easier, to creating a new and improved spreadsheet for collecting data. You can even order yourself a new planner to be better organized.
When you have the chance to use your free time for anything you want, why not use it to make your life easier?
Future You will thank you!
Streamlining can also be applied to your team’s processes as well. You can plan out a new workflow scheme or create instructional documents to help new team members learn your systems. Anything the improves team efficiency can make everyone happy.
But here’s another warning – streamlining the team’s work is usually a manager’s job. If you’re not a manager, but you have ideas or suggestions to make, tread carefully. Approach the manager with some basic ideas and see if they want to hear more. This way, you can avoid stepping on toes.
Make a Formal Proposal
Something similar to helping streamline your team’s work is to make a concrete and thoroughly explained suggestion for improvement. You may have been sitting on a really solid idea on how to improve things at work, but just haven’t had the time to really spell it out.
When you’re bored, use your time wisely.
Think about how to best communicate your idea and who you should direct it to. If you have something you think is really worthwhile, get it down on paper. Make a formal proposal outlining what you think could be improved and how to do it. Will the company save money or speed up turnover? Don’t forget to include a reasonable estimation of what the results would be.
If you need help writing a proposal, big or small, have a look at these free proposal templates.
Once again, be wary of going over your supervisor’s head. Most companies have clear organizational structures, which are also lines of communication. While you might want to bring your idea all the way up to the big boss, this could make your immediate supervisor look bad. So go through the right channels. But since you’ve written a formal proposal, you will still have to be credited with the idea.
Clean Out Your Inbox
If you just read that and felt dread, congratulations – you’re human!
Nobody but nobody likes cleaning out an email inbox (because if you like it, yours is already clean), but at the same time, this is something that we all know we should do. It just happens to be one of the easiest tasks to put off for a rainy day.
If you’re bored at work, just get on with it. I can make you some guarantees here, too.
Firstly, you’re going to realize how much junk you’re actually accumulating in your inbox normally. Just like a spring cleaning, when you finally go through and get rid of all the junk (or at least archive it), it can be a huge relief.
Secondly, you’re almost sure to find something quite important in there that you’ve either put off for ages or even completely forgotten about. Either way, going back to that issue might be crucial.
And thirdly, cleaning out your inbox means it will be clean. When you’re back at work tomorrow, you’ll realize the benefits of a clean box. It will be easier to find and keep track of your messages. You’ll also feel way less dread because you’ll have so many fewer impending messages looming over you.
Trust me – it’s tough love but self-love.
Rearrange Your Workspace
Even the most fastidious and organized person can improve their workspace. This can be as simple as moving your computer or as serious as a deep clean and furniture re-arrangement. But no matter what you have in the back of your mind to improve your workspace, now’s the time to do it.
Start with a clean-up…
Getting rid of messes and actually cleaning up dust and grime can make a huge difference to how you feel in your space. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t prefer a sparkling clean work station to one that’s covered in dust and moldy coffee cups!
Think about comfort, too. Can you do anything to your seat, desk, computer, or other tools to make them more comfortable to work with? So many of us spend hours in the same spot all day that it’s well worth it to make that space as comfortable and ergonomic as possible.
Finally, think about your workflow…
Can you move anything around to make it easier to work or to be more efficient?
The only danger in creating a clean, organized, perfectly laid-out workspace is that tomorrow, you’re going to be even more efficient at your work, so you may have even more free time than before!
When you have free time and feel bored at work, it’s easy to just waste time by shopping online for things you don’t need or playing video games. But isn’t that a waste? I’m sure your employer would think so.
But what if your supervisor walked in to your office to find you educating yourself about work-related issues? I doubt you’d be in for the same sort of reaction as if you were messing around on Facebook.
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s always more to know and learn. You can check out the latest news about your line of work and see if anything is shifting or changing that might help you do your job better. LinkedIn Learning is also full of free and paid courses on thousands of topics.
YouTube is full of instructional videos on every subject under the sun, so why not boost your expertise today?
Look for Something New
While educating yourself involves looking for new things to learn, this isn’t what I mean here. Let’s face it, if you’re reading an article called “What to Do When Bored at Work,” this could be a serious indication that you’re in a job or even a whole career that isn’t satisfying enough for you.
If you’re bored because you’re not challenged, under-stimulated, or over-qualified for your job, your downtime can be used to find a new job. You can work on various steps for career enhancement, whether that means proposing a lateral change in your current company, asking for a promotion, or looking elsewhere. You can take the time to get your resume updated and in order, build up your LinkedIn profile, or to search for new jobs.
Of course, be careful with this one. Even if you have no tasks to perform and you’re bored to tears, a supervisor isn’t going to be impressed finding you looking for a new job on company time!
Is The Boredom Making You Think of a Change of Career?
Then check out our in-depth look at the Best 6 Figure Jobs, the Best Paying Jobs in Energy, the Top 20 Part Time Jobs that Pay more than 20 per Hour, the Best Remote Jobs that Pay Well, the Top 15 Part Time Jobs that Pay more than 40 per Hour, and the Best Jobs for Introverts available in 2023.
And changing jobs will mean doing interviews once again, so it’s well worth investing in a quality guide such as Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies or the excellent, Interview Like A Pro.
However, we also feature comprehensive guides on how to answer common interview questions on this site, such as Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, Why We Should Hire You?, How to respond to Why Do You Want to Work Here? or even answering How to Answer What is Your Greatest Strength!
7 Productive Ways to Alleviate Boredom at Work
With these seven suggestions, you now know the best things to do when you’re bored at work. While messing around, distracting your colleagues, or playing practical jokes all have their attractions, finding productive ways to spend your time can be a real game-changer.
If you invest in organization and efficiency today, you might just end up with big pay-offs tomorrow. Proposing a new system or idea can get you noticed and impress your bosses. So can educating yourself in the field you work in. But if in doubt, get out – if you’re chronically bored at work, use your downtime to look for a new career that will truly stimulate you.
Schopenhauer said, “The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”
At least you can get rid of boredom!