The most mind-crushing boredom I’ve ever experienced was as a student in primary and secondary school. That desperate feeling of being trapped at a desk as you helplessly tried to block out the sound of the teacher droning on and on was something I rarely feel as an adult. These days, no matter how bored you are in the short-term, there’s always your smartphone or Facebook to retreat to.
But more adults are afflicted with a long-term boredom that creeps up on them over the months and years. And often, this sense of listlessness and stagnation happens at work. Everything you do seems pointless, and you wonder why you’re plodding on and on.
If you’ve been suffering from work-induced boredom, this isn’t your year, due to the soft job market. Instead of quitting and hoping your dream job will fall into your lap thanks to some Fairy Godmother, try these four things first.
Ask your boss to send you for training or courses
Boredom at work often sets in when you reach the point where you’re no longer learning. Your daily tasks start to feel awfully mundane, and you’re pretty much on auto-pilot till it’s time to knock off.
While a lack of learning opportunities is actually a good reason to change jobs, don’t do that before making sure you’ve maxed out everything your company has to offer. For a start, ask your boss if you can be sent “on course”. This can help you pick up skills that can make your job less boring, or at least be used in a new role when you move on.
You have the best chances of being sent on all sorts of courses if you’re working for an MNC. I know people working for European banks who’ve successfully gotten their companies to pay for anything from French lessons to social media marketing classes, even though these had at best a very tenuous link to the actual work they were doing.
What all these people had in common was that they researched the courses themselves and then took the initiative to ask their bosses if they could be sponsored.
Ask to work on a project a colleague is doing
We often get stuck in a rut at work because we’ve done a decent job at completing a certain task, and that results in our getting stuck doing that task all the damn time. It’s easier for an animal trainer to train ten monkeys to do one task each, than to train all ten to do ten different tasks.
You can get yourself out of that rut by looking at the projects your colleagues are working on, and then asking if you can help out. Over time, you’ll hopefully learn some new skills so you’re not stuck doing the same thing all the time.
This works better in SMEs where roles are more fluid. Those working for bigger companies where there’s a whole bunch of people all performing the same role can try to request for a rotation or a change of department.
Speak with your boss about a promotion or transfer
It might sound weird and a little shameless, but especially at big organisations, it is normal to tell your boss you wish to be considered for a promotion up to a year before the fact. The idea is that your boss can then assess you over the months and give you plum projects. Those who keep quiet, no matter how good they might be, are often overlooked if they don’t have this chat with their boss.
Even if your company doesn’t work that way, it’s still a good idea to communicate with your boss about where you see yourself a year from now. Don’t like what you do? Getting an internal transfer to another department is usually easier than finding a new job, since your colleagues hopefully already know and like you. Think you’re overqualified for your role? Discuss how you can be groomed to take on more responsibilities and eventually promoted.
If you say nothing, there’s a good chance your boss will think you’re perfectly happy to stay where you are.
Take up a new hobby and make some new friends
There are many people who complain incessantly about their jobs, when really, it’s their lives they’re unhappy about.
Take an honest look at your life and ask yourself how fulfilled you feel outside of work. If you have no social life to speak of, your only hobby is watching TV and you haven’t picked up any new skills or hobbies since you were forced to join a CCA in secondary school, try to work on your life outside of work and see if it changes how you feel on the job.
You might be surprised to find that when you’re feeling good about your life in general, you’re less likely to want to murder your colleagues and more likely to feel motivated to do a decent job.
Have you ever felt bored with your career? Tell us how you dealt with it in the comments!