Last year, I read a post on the fantastic Cup of Jo, which shared a great idea for how to occupy kids when they lament, "I'm so bored!" It is the summer, after all. So perhaps you parents are familiar? ;)
Over the past year, I've been testing out a version for us grown-up worker bees. Although we all love talking about how busy and stressed we are, the reality is that most of us go through ebbs and flows of busy-ness, and sometimes we do get bored at work- particularly during the month of August when much of the Western world is on holiday.
Definitely check out Jo's post (especially if you have kiddos), but here is my riff for grown-ups:
Write a list of the things you'd like to do for your career or just typical work life betterment. They can be anything from long-term, strategic things you've been putting off, which will help you accomplish your future goals to short-term to-do's.
But warning: this shouldn't be your 2 page to-do list that will depress and paralyze you the moment you glance at the page. However, it is okay to include some simple yet mundane tasks that will ultimately make your life better, like "clear papers from desk and organize electronically."
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your Grown-Up Bored List:
- Make sure that the list contains professional-related items. I'm not advocating booking your next vacation or using company time in a non-professional way. But there are a lot of tasks, on which we all procrastinate, as well as long-term professional development that's all to easy to put off time and time again.
- Keep the list in your workspace (I keep mine in my trusty Day Designer. Oh, how I love you, Day Designer...). It needs to be readily accessible so that the next time you lose focus and find yourself surfing the net out of boredom, you can pull yourself back to productivity.
- For me, the "list sweet spot" is about 10 items long. If you're curious, here are some examples that have been on my Grown-Up Bored List during the past year:
- Schedule phone and lunch dates with my mentors and mentees.
- Pick up the phone to people in my network to whom I haven't spoken in the last 6 months. Or better yet, have a coffee with that new contact I'm hoping to add to my network.
- Check in on how I'm performing against my company-assigned annual goals.
- Create, organize, and write blog posts.
- Review my compensation and benchmark against the market.
- Achieve Inbox Zero, one of my greatest professional accomplishments of 2016!
- Update my LinkedIn and company intranet profiles.
- Take a 15 minute break from the office and meditate.
- Listen to a business podcast, like the Tim Ferriss Show.
How do you deal with boredom at work?