One of the greatest challenges you’re going to face as an inquisitive, thoughtful person is boredom. Part of the reason so many of us are glued to social media is our fear of boredom, and the anxiety we face when we simply aren’t interested in what we’re doing, or worse – we don’t seem to have anything to do.
2020 only served to increase this challenge. Afterall, one of the primary ways we stave off boredom is by going to new places, interacting with others, and engaging in valuable activities. Exacerbating the reality of social distancing and stay-at-home behavior is the fact that, for so many of us, work has now come home as well, meaning we can be bored at home, and at work… at the same time.
But boredom can be dangerous for businesses, especially leadership and entrepreneurs: boredom in the short term can decrease productivity, while boredom in the longer term can lead to business decisions made out of impatience and desire for change. As a young entrepreneur, I’ve worked hard to train myself to turn moments that could be boring into opportunities for growth. With a little bit of effort, we can choose to turn boredom into a tool for improvement.
Attain Mastery and Follow Trends
One way to deal with occasional or longer term boredom at work is to choose to become a master of some subfield or topic in your job that is interesting to you. Working from home makes it easier to engage in side research or study in a topic of interest, and anytime you learn something in your field that makes you an expert, you have improved your marketability and value as an employee or leader. If you can obtain certification in some interesting subfield or related subject, push yourself to avoid periods of boredom by directing them toward that mastery.
Once you’ve mastered a subfield, use off time and periods of boredom to read up on the latest trends in that topic or subfield of mastery. This will allow you to stay current and curious while learning new things all the time. By having a specific theme to search for or read about during periods of boredom, we can use that time constructively rather than doom scrolling on social media or waiting mindlessly for that next zoom meeting to start.
Schedule Well and Brainstorm Wisely
As the Founder of The Doe, one strategy that I like to apply when working at home is to determine which ‘boring’ activities I have to do that day, and then scheduling a specific period of time for completing these tasks. It’s easy to procrastinate for work tasks we know we will find boring, but by setting a clear time to start and a deadline, we give ourselves motivation and the promise that the boredom will have a clear endpoint. By making boredom a part of your work routine and controlling it, you’ll find it less frustrating.
Boredom can also be controlled by giving the mind something productive to meditate about while engaged in boring activities. We all have ideas that cause us to say, “I wish I had some time to just think about that.” By keeping a list of those, and setting it aside as a “boredom brainstorming list”, you can focus your boredom mind into an uninhibited period of thought. These boredom brainstorming sessions can be full of innovation and creativity, turning an annoyance into an opportunity.
Anyone can suffer from boredom now and again, but if we can package it into tolerable chunks, harness it to gain mastery over skills, or reorient it toward thoughtful meditation, we can make boredom a tool for improving our home work flow.