The cure for boredom at work

Posted on February 2, 2012. Filed under: Boredom at work, The cure for boredom, Time passes slowly | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

“It’s typical this company!” exclaims the rugged blond man with his strong accent from the South of Sweden. He speaks with great enthusiasm and I fear that parts of his sandwich will end up in my coffee although I am seated on the other side of the table. He adds three pieces of sugar to his coffee and it spills over the edge of the cup as he stirs vigorously with the end of his yardstick. I am fascinated and glancing down I can’t help but notice that it measures 3 inches of coffee.

Time flies when you have a lot to do. That’s pretty obvious. But what happens when you are so bored at work that you are just waiting for the clock to turn home time?

When I summarized the pre-studies for this week’s participants, I was surprised to see that more than usual, had indicated having very little stress on the job. In the same studies, I found that the biggest time thieves were unclear responsibilities, lack of information and low motivation.

“You have forgotten one very important point now that you’re talking about us working more effective. Something really bothers me. It’s all these meetings! None takes responsibility for arranging proper coffee breaks. When we have meetings someone should be responsible for buying pastries.” I have long since stopped listening to the Southern man who is now licking the coffee of his yardstick before he stuffs it in his pocket. I am reminded of one of my first groups in the south of Sweden, where the discussion went high on the importance of coffee breaks at the meetings. Confused I was trying to write their suggestions of meeting rules. Pastries? Do you need any specific?

Researchers easily identifies the major cause of boredom. It’s when work is measured in units of time, rather than in what you produce or perform.

When hungry lab mouses have to wait for a fixed period of time before they can press a lever to get food, they become quite dull. It’s a bit like waiting for the clock to turn five before you get to go home.

According to research high motivation is reached when you can set goals for yourself every day and decide for yourself when they are achieved and when to end the day.

When you focus on the task you’re doing, you forget about time. But the concern that time passes slowly is not the only reason for boredom. The lack of having a job you enjoy and lack of feeling that you contribute will decrease your motivation. The sense of doing something of value for someone else, being a good chef, saving lives will increase the quality of your work day.

So how can you get through the day without being bored?

In a sense we are all slaves to the paycheck. We need to pay our bills. It is an uncomfortable fact. But studying books about motivation I can’t help but notice some tips;

Be sure to keep busy. By focusing on getting tasks done, you will not only become positively engaged, you might also get feedback for what you’ve achieved and for your positive attitude of doing things.

When you have more hours than work, be creative and take the opportunity to clean and clear out clutter. Match the colors of your binders, paint and decorate, refurnish, arrange wires.

Get a responsibility that is appreciated and that you are a little better at than your colleagues, a program, care of the flowers, fixing things, anything that makes you feel that you contribute will provide personal satisfaction.

Put a pride in doing your job really well, not just to get some hard-earned money at the end of the month. What if it’s as simple as that? Time flies when you feel a personal profit from  what you do.

It is not near boredom outside my window. In Sweden the weather cast say “A Canonball of Snow” I have no idea who invented that headline, but it might have been someone who had great fun on the job. And there is a huge amount of snow which the kids think is great. And it’s finally Friday which I think is great.

Wish you a great weekend
Petra Brask

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. “
Ellen Parr



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