Reading Articles Because You’re Bored, Huh?
When people ask me how work is going, my response is “the good kind of boring.”
No pressing deadlines. No sense of urgency. A tried-and-true tech stack. Feedback comes in, and I implement changes. I send code off for review and review others — Features ship. Bugs die.
It’s not terrible. But, when my wife comes home and asks me to tell me about my day, I got nothing.
I’m not complaining, but “the good kind of boring” is still monotonous. Every job and every project has doldrums. Periods, where all there is, is the grind. Since these times are inevitable, what can you do to tolerate them better? I have found a few tactics that have helped me, but before that, here is why it’s imperative that you first take ownership of your boredom.
Your manager isn’t here to spark joy
It is not your boss’s responsibility to make your job enjoyable, exciting or fulfilling. That’s on you. You don’t find a job that fulfills you; you find ways to build more fulfillment out of your work. Your happiness is more a function of your self-awareness and self-management than external factors. It’s part of your emotional intelligence. What’s causing your boredom, and what can you do to relieve it? It’s a learnable skill, just like writing, coding, or selling. Now on to those tactics.
1. You Can Accomplish Much With 5 Minutes of Mindfulness
Over the last few years, mindfulness has moved from Eastern religious practice to Silicon Valley fad. More than enough podcasts discuss it, so I won’t belabor the point here. Just know this: mindfulness doesn’t have to be a rigid morning routine or even a meditative practice. It can be 5 – 10 minutes of quiet, taking stock of your crazy monkey mind’s contents. We can all 5 minutes. Here’s a trick: The next time you are reading an article online, listening to a podcast, checking social media, or checking your email, don’t. Instead, take a moment to be present. Ask yourself:
- How am I feeling at this moment?
- What’s important?
- Why am I doing this?
- What can I do next?
2. Are You As Busy As You Could Be?
Are you honestly working as hard as you can? Is there a way you can Daft Punk your tasks and do them harder, better, faster, or stronger? Actively trying to improve your skills increases engagement. Here’s how I turned one of my first gigs, a data entry job of endless Excel cut-and-pasting, into an enjoyable and fruitful exercise:
I hid my mouse.
Excel has roughly 37,000 hotkeys, of which I knew about 4. I decided to learn more
3. Look Away From Your Desk
Are there other tasks you can do outside of your current position? Talk to your coworkers and see what they are struggling with. Another story: Part of working in automation is that you are in a constant state of obsoleting yourself. At one previous job, when I had automated all the significant sections of our marketing funnel at one company, I talked to coworkers about their processes. It turns out customer support had about 1.5 full-time jobs worth of tedious bullshit on their plate. I took on automating that and was able to get others away from their excel sheets so they could do something a little less boring themselves.
4. Do Deadlifts of The Mind
What if none the above work? No matter how hard you try to find meaning or challenge in your work, it still seems listless and dull. You doing as much as you can, and you can’t take on anything else.
That means you are fortunate enough to have a chance to work on your mental discipline. Just as emotional intelligence increases with study and practice, mental toughness increases with training. It works like any other way you increase knowledge or strength. You improve by pushing your limits. You’re bored? Keep being bored. Learn how to be bored. If it’s inevitable, then prepare. If you can’t improve your situation, better yourself.