How to Re-Engage When You’re Dis-Engaged
Yes, you can do your job with your eyes closed and head nodding to the beat of your trendy playlists, on autopilot all the way. Hmmm, time for a new challenge? As you contemplate that possibility, and all that a job hop could entail, you are likely feeling a little less than motivated today.
Yet, you’re a well-intentioned, “give them the best that I’ve got” kind of employee, and well, maybe feel a little guilty about the number of times you sneak a peek at the clock or fly by LinkedIn job postings.
Or conversely, maybe your current position makes your eyes twinkle and your heart skip a beat on occasion, and yet it has predictable and humdrum downtimes. You get that. Not everyday is a 10 on the Bluebird of Happiness Job Scale.
So what can you do when you really don’t have much to do? When your normally bright, inquisitive mind is not “inquisiting?”
Here are a few ideas to help you reconnect and make the boredom banalities pass. Taking action on these tactics will set you back into motion, whether it’s moving on to the next opportunity or earnestly engaging at your current.
Nab a Mentor
DO THIS FIRST! Use your down time to connect with a mentor. Of all the things you can do when you feel bored at work, this one can have the most positive and enduring consequence.
Think about those persons who you respect and would love to spend some time with. Make a list. Talk to colleagues about who is known as a good and available mentor.
Check out this resource, “How to Find a Great Mentor for You, Without Awkward, Aimless and Arbitrary Searching” for some immediately useful tips on finding that right mentor for you.
Then reach out. Make a phone call, or stop by their workstation, and ask to schedule a half hour of their time on a project or subject you are passionate about. Be specific about what you’d like to gain from them and how much you’d appreciate their time.
A new relationship with an energized leader will inspire you to make your own changes.
Nurture new ideas
What are the top four or five key processes that make up your job? What could you do to make them better?
List them, and first note what is working well, then what needs to be improved or removed.
Maybe it’s the 45-minute stand-up meeting your manager calls every morning.
What works? Everyone gets the latest and greatest updates first thing in the day.
What doesn’t work? People are shifting from foot to foot and glancing at their watches because it is taking so long. It could probably end in 20 minutes and then off to work you go.
You can make your own list and then change what you can and suggest (respectfully) to your higher-ups what new things you’d recommend.
Number your achievements
“What have you done for me lately?”
Many bosses have short memories about your many vast accomplishments, so even for your own benefit, take some time to record the amazing things you have accomplished for your organization recently.
Write them down, even the “tiny” things you’ve done.
Any accomplishment, no matter how small, activates the reward circuitry of our brains. Science shows that when this pathway in your brain is opened, it releases the chemical dopamine, which energizes you and gives you a feel-good aura. And that beats boredom at work!
Remember when you didn’t even know where the coffee machine was, much less how the boss preferred to receive the weekly status report? There were those awkward first few weeks when you didn’t know the company ways and felt like all you did was ask an unending stream of questions. We’ve all been there and it’s not always fun.
Reach out to a newbie and make them feel welcome. They’re trying to learn your language. Introduce them to a few of your colleagues and help them kick start their network. You’ll feel better about your value to your organization.
Does your workspace need to bring in the backhoe, or maybe just a spritz of cleaning solution here and there? Whatever the state of yours, are you a believer that “a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind?”
There is some science behind the pros of cleaning up your work environs. According to new research conducted by Kathleen Vohs and her fellow researchers in Psychological Science, the study reveals that working at a clean and well-organized desk may promote healthy eating, generosity and conventionality. (and my add—rolling up your sleeves and exerting some elbow grease can reduce boredom)
Also, when a new client or the new boss from corporate headquarters walks into your office, you make a great first impression. Your parents were right, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So make that an easy one by livening your office ambiance.
It’s noon and your stomach sends you a message. So, get up, walk away from your workspace, grab a couple of friends, and get some lunch together. Studies show that a “real” lunch break in the day gives you more energy and productivity.
Your glucose level, which is the fuel in your gas tank, thanks you, and especially if you are choosing the Ahi Tuna Poke and Mango salad over the half-pounder Burger of the Day. (WHO says adequate nutrition can raise your productivity levels by 20 percent on average.)
At my last company, I’d do a Snack Sprint at 2:00 p.m. with a friend of mine. We were like clockwork. Two o’clock struck and we’d practically have a horse race to the vending machine (finding something healthy there was often the tricky part). We looked forward to that time and it broke up what could be some mid-afternoon monotony.
Eating together is a good thing. “Table conversation” with friends has special qualities that make it different than when you talk on the phone or engage in meetings. It provides a time where you can relax and bond.
So, good news—a healthy lunch with friends equals a livelier, and less bored, you.
You know how you feel when you take a walk in a lovely park for ten minutes. You don’t even need to read the stats on how good it is for you or how much it will reenergize and revitalize the rest of your day.
A walk in nature gives you a mental boost.
One thing that can help get your mind back into gear is exposing it to uplifting environments, which, research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)
Step outside, leave your stressors, boredom and IPhone behind, and enjoy a brief walk in nature.
If you’re feeling bored with the day or your job in general, you might be fighting the great temptation to complain to your coworkers, your boss, your subordinates, or any living soul within earshot.
In his article, Stop Complaining: How Whining Affects Our Work, David Zimmerman offers five reasons complaining hurts our work — it makes things seem worse than they are, turns people into bad employees, kills innovation, becomes a habit, and is bad for your health.
And it certainly doesn’t obliterate boredom. So promise yourself, no whining.
Notes of thanks
Sometimes boredom at work, especially long lasting, go-nowhere boredom, could point to a selfish view of the world. It’s all about me. I’m not having fun at this job. Sigh.
A great antidote to flirting with selfishness is to make the effort to look outward and appreciate what others are doing or have done.
Write a note of thanks. It doesn’t necessarily mean with a quilled pen and fancy stationary, it can be an email or simply a sticky note. It’s a small act that takes the spotlight off of you and places it kindly and altruistically on someone else.
Philosophy professor, Andreas Elpidorous at the University of Louisville, concludes that boredom is a warning signal that we’ve become stagnant, we may have lost sight of our goals, and it’s time to create change.
Looking for more insights on how to scale your business and life? Set up a complimentary 20-minute coaching call with Lori, Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get set up right away!