Even if you have your dream job, some days at work are just so boring! Instead of having an existential crisis and wondering what you are doing with your life, there are alternative ways to feel fulfilled at work while taking steps to progress your career. The next time you are bored at work, why not try the activities below? While there is no substitute to pursuing your passion, the following tips will help you use the downtime to your advantage and make positive strides toward achieving your goals.
- Create and propose new projects that you would like to work on that fall into your scope of responsibility. When I was experiencing a lull in my workload, I researched new ideas for projects, pitched them to my boss and got the approval to work on them. This not only shows initiative, but it bulks up your resume for the future. On a particularly slow week, I decided to host a Galentine’s Day Potluck at work, which gave me something to look forward to.
- Read articles or books that are relevant to your field. Staying abreast of trends in your industry will help your career by inspiring new ideas at your current position and makes you more knowledgeable at future job interviews. If there are a few people in your department, why not start a book club?
- Daydream about what your next step will be or what your ideal job is, then draft a feasible plan to get you there. Where does your mind go when you let it wander? If you are in the industry that you love, but your current position is less than fulfilling, find out what skills and experience you need to take yourself to the next level. The technique I use is to find a job posting for a position that I would like in the upcoming couple of years, then work towards those requirements.
- Keep a journal. Whenever my work is stagnant, I pull out my journal and spend 10-15 minutes writing down whatever comes to mind. This takes up some time, makes me feel productive and frees up space in my brain to increase innovation.
- Take a walk. A little fresh air never hurt anyone. Getting your blood pumping will help you feel refreshed and energized. It will also give you a mental break so you return to your desk with renewed focus.
- Connect and chat on Twitter with people in your industry. Social media has become such a normal part of daily life that it is no longer frowned upon to be using Twitter or Facebook during work hours. Use this to your advantage by joining the conversation on whichever social media network you prefer.
- Focus on the positives and the life that your job enables you to have. Why are you spending eight hours of your life at this job? Is it because the money you earn allows you to have the life that you want? A change in perspective and some gratitude can work wonders in the way that you feel toward life. Even on days when I am experiencing mind-numbing boredom, I shift my focus to the incredible trips that I will be able to take this year or the puppy I will be able to adopt or even the beautiful clothes/delicious foods I am able to purchase. Not everyone has the privilege of employment which enables us to afford shelter, food and other necessities/luxuries. Rather than focusing on your boredom, spend your time being grateful for the parts of your job that you enjoy, like your fun coworkers or the freedom to take a coffee break during the day or having so much free-time at work that you can DO ANYTHING.
- Look for a new job. If none of the tips above have worked and you still find yourself dreading going to work (and you spend eight hours at work hating your life), it’s time for a change. As Steve Jobs said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever that answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”