The 3 Secrets to Overcoming Office Boredom
Work + Life Balance

The 3 Secrets to Overcoming Office Boredom

DO YOU OFTEN FIND YOURSELF WITH DOWNTIME AT YOUR DESK? GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR WORKDAY WITH THESE THREE TIPS!

We're constantly told:

"Time is precious."

"Tomorrow could be your last day."

"Make each day count."

These statements are all true, of course, but the question is how? How can we make the most of our days, when most of us are stuck inside, staring at a computer monitor?

While many people find themselves busy at work, we’ve all experienced downtime—those moments in a given day or week where you find yourself with a few spare minutes, or even hours. Using that downtime productively—as opposed to surfing Facebook or Gchatting with your friends—is the key to making the most of your days, even when you’re stuck in a cubicle.

So, if you’re wondering what you should do instead of catching up on the latest celebrity gossip in those rare relaxed moments at work, here are three things you can consider to help you make the most of your time at work and in life:

MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL

First and foremost, if you find yourself with a lot of downtime at work, I urge you to have a conversation with your boss about how you can better utilize your time. Don’t admit that you're "bored and need more to do," as that sets a negative tone.

If you find yourself with a lot of downtime at work, I urge you to have a conversation with your boss about how you can better utilize your time.

Be mindful about the way you phrase your inquiry. It's important to convey interest in your work whenever speaking to upper management. If you don't want to be there, they certainly won't want to keep you!

Make it clear to your boss that you are completing your workload efficiently and accurately. You enjoy what you do, but would like to begin challenging yourself by taking on more. More often than not, the initiative will bode well for you and possibly take some weight off your boss’s shoulders.

Walk into your boss’s office armed with the additional work you had in mind. It shows you took initiative to think about what you'd like to do, as well as what might need to get done to help the company moving forward. This could mean anything from consolidating data, updating client contacts, improving workflow, or conducting research that could help both of you improve the overall business. Look for holes in the system, or even aspects of your own work that appear inefficient. Not only will this eliminate your boredom, but improve your relationship with upper management overall.

Related: How to Robot-Proof Your Job

CONSUME INFORMATION

The world is our oyster, and that couldn't be truer as a millennial. {Click to Tweet} We have access to any and all information, and we can constantly consume and share that information with our many circles. Take advantage of that!

If you have to stare at the computer screen all day, why not explore? Begin with your specific company and industry. Spend time educating yourself, as there is nothing more compelling than a colleague who is highly aware of their business landscape. Your peers and upper management will be impressed that you know so much about what's going on in the “biz."

Strive to be ahead of the curve, no matter your role in your company. {Click to Tweet} Whether it's reviewing the Harvard Business Review, setting Google alerts about your company and its thought leaders, or possibly subscribing to a few newsletters, set yourself up to receive information that's relevant—and use your downtime to read through it all.

If you’re looking for a way to catch up on a lot of great information in one shot, you can turn to media platforms like The Skimm, The BroadSHEET, Media Redefined, and our very own Career Contessa.

As time goes on and you consume more information, you'll find yourself ever more excited to stay in the know. Being aware of the “comings and goings” of your particular industry allows you to make meaningful contributions to your own company and forge a path for your own career.

Being aware of the “comings and goings” of your particular industry allows you to make meaningful contributions to your own company and forge a path for your own career.

Related: How to Communicate Effectively at Work

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS

Most people think of informational interviews as a tool to be used only during the job search. I’ve found that they’re valuable no matter where you are in your career.

As an intern, I mastered the art of informational interviews within my company. They were crucial to familiarizing myself with the departments in my company and their function. I also knew they would lead to greater job opportunities and an expansive network. I was right! That work got me in all the right doors at all the right times. I constantly have to remind myself that, although I'm happy in my role, it's important to know the ins and outs of my company—and understand how and where I can grow. 

How often do you pass by your colleague’s office without a clue as to what they do? Perhaps, the most you've spoken to them about is the weather. I encourage you to ask them for a few moments of their time to learn more about what they do and how they got to their position. Don't be embarrassed to ask, I bet they don't know what you do either! We can all learn something from each other.

When asking for information interviews, remember to be conscious of their time. You might have a few expendable hours, but they may not. If that's the case, make sure to ask about their daily routine. This could give you greater insight into ways they spend their time or even a project they could use your help with.

If nothing else, informational interviews will give you an inside look at the many opportunities and career paths within your company—information you can use for the rest of your working life!

If nothing else, informational interviews will give you an inside look at the many opportunities and career paths within your company—information you can use for the rest of your working life!

Related: #CareerChat Recap: Keeping Your Network Fresh

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Office boredom can be debilitating, there's no doubt about it. But it's not a death sentence.

Think creatively and aim to find a constructive activity, like those mentioned above, and remove the word “bored” from your vocabulary. {Click to Tweet} You’ll find that quickly your boredom will become valuable time spent learning and growing.

Tell us, how do you occupy your office downtime?