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What to Do When You’re Bored at Work

We’ve all been there: You’re sitting in front of your computer at the office, thinking about what’s for lunch or which extracurricular activity you need to drive your kids to later. Nothing on your to-do list seems that interesting, and not even a double espresso can make you feel motivated. Let’s face it—you’re bored out of your mind.

Hey, everyone hits a slump every once in a while, even at a great job. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night or there are a lot of distractions in your personal life. But if you’ve noticed this boredom is becoming a frequent pattern, it’s time to figure out why.

Let’s talk about what might be making you feel bored at work and what to do about it so you can make sure you’re in the best job for you!

Why Are You Bored at Work? 

Boredom in the workplace can usually be traced to a few specific culprits. Ready to take a closer look at them?

You’re not passionate about your work. 

When you’re not doing work that makes you excited to get up and go in the morning, it really takes a toll on you emotionally and physically. Maybe you’re working a job that doesn’t bring you any joy just so you can make ends meet, or you’ve been stuck doing the same work for years because it’s all you’ve ever known. But trust me—it’s possible to be passionate about your work and make a great living at the same time.

You don’t have the chance to advance. 

It’s hard to stay pumped about your job when you feel like there’s a cap on your current position and you won’t have the opportunity to move up the ladder in any way. Meaningful work isn’t all about career advancement, but growth is still an important factor. There aren’t many people who would want to do the same tasks and make the same salary for an indefinite number of years with no changes in sight. 

You’re not being challenged. 

Working a job that’s a piece of cake for you might sound fun right now—talk about low stress, right? But the reality is, doing something that’s below your skill level day in and day out can get old pretty quickly. It’s not arrogant to admit that some jobs are just too easy, and you want a bigger mountain to climb.

Your company doesn’t have a mission.

Every workplace should have a clearly defined mission statement that answers the question, Why does this company exist? Not having a mission statement can create a lot of confusion and disunity. How can employees get excited about their work when they don’t know why they’re doing it? When everyone is on the same page about the mission, they can all move full speed ahead together as a team.

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Another possible issue is that your company does have a mission statement, but it’s not one you’re fully on board with. Maybe it conflicts with your personal values, or maybe it just doesn’t hold a lot of weight for you. That’s okay! But it might be a sign that you’d be more invested someplace else that has a different mission.

You don’t have clear expectations. 

Like Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” If expectations aren’t crystal clear, you might feel like you’re directionless or aiming at nothing. A great leader will sit down with you as soon as you’re hired and go over everything that’s expected of you and what it looks like to win in your current role. But not every company spells it out like that for their employees, so you might need to take the initiative and be a driving force for clarity in this area.

What to Do When You’re Bored at Work 

At times, boredom can be a good thing because that feeling tells you something needs to change. Once you’ve identified what’s causing your boredom, you can take action to change your routine, personal habits or work environment.

Here are a few things you could choose to do about the situation:

1. Challenge yourself to grow in your field. 

If you’ve been feeling stagnant for a while, see if there are any courses, certifications, books or podcasts that can help you learn more about your craft outside of work. You might even think about finding someone who knows more about your industry than you do and asking if they’d be willing to mentor you, or at least grab lunch with you.

If that’s not possible, look for people in your field who inspire you and study their content—things like articles, YouTube videos, emails or social media posts. What strategies are they using that you want to apply to your own career?

2. Set goals for your job. 

Maybe the company you work for isn’t too specific about individual goals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set professional goals for yourself. Those could be anything from bringing in a certain amount of revenue by the end of the day, to gaining 50 new subscribers to the company newsletter per week, to writing a certain number of blog posts by the end of the year.

Whatever your job is, find a way to measure it, give yourself a deadline, and boom—you have a goal! You could make the stakes even higher by giving yourself some kind of fun reward when you hit that goal.

3. Ask for more work. 

Maybe there’s someone else in your department with a lot on their plate who would welcome the extra help. Maybe no one realizes you don’t have enough to do, and if they did, they would give you more projects. So don’t be afraid to speak up! But because I hate to see people get burned out, I would recommend this only if your own plate is empty and running out of work has become a regular issue for you.

4. Ask for different work. 

It’s possible you’re in the wrong seat on the bus, meaning you love your workplace, but you’d be better suited for a different role within the company. If you find yourself constantly frustrated by your current role, try looking through your company’s job openings to see if there are any other jobs you’d be interested in and take note of any job shifts that are happening internally. You might just find a new role that interests you a lot more.

5. Take well-defined breaks. 

Everyone needs breaks, even short ones, in order to stay on their A-game. But here’s the key: You have to plan them out and stick to them—otherwise you might not take any and become exhausted, or a spontaneous “break” to read a news headline might turn into an hour of scrolling. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you take time to rest on purpose, you’re a lot more productive.

So, schedule a few 5- or 10-minute breaks throughout your day (in addition to your lunch break). Get up and stretch, take a quick walk, talk to a friend, or do whatever helps you recharge. Then when your time’s up, go back to work. If these kinds of breaks aren’t possible at your workplace, at least make sure you completely disconnect from work at the end of the day. Put away your phone when you get home, don’t answer any work emails, and get a good night’s sleep. Trust me, you’ll be way less likely to feel bored and spaced out the next day!

6. Talk with your leader. 

This one works especially well if you have a good leader who encourages open communication and honesty. Schedule some time to talk with them about the issues you’ve pinpointed and work with them to figure out a solution. You probably shouldn’t come right out and say, “This job is boring,” but you can ask your leader to help you make a change in your workload or set goals and expectations for your role.

7. Figure out if you’re in the right job. 

If you believe your boredom can be traced to an issue with your job itself, this is a good opportunity to think about finding a new job. You might want to do the same kind of work you’re doing now but at a different company, or you may need a total career shift.

Take some time to decide if you’re truly in your sweet spot—that means you’re using your talents (what you do best) to perform your passions (what you love to do most) to achieve your mission (the results that matter deeply to you). My free Career Clarity Guide can help you figure out what kind of work is most meaningful and exciting to you.

You Don’t Have to Be Bored at Work 

Here’s the bottom line: Sometimes workplace boredom is the result of something you need to work on, and sometimes it’s because your job is . . . well . . . boring. And you don’t have to settle for boring.

Wondering if it’s time to bite the bullet and quit that job? Take my Should I Quit My Job Quiz to find out the best course of action for you. Remember, you were created to fill a unique role, and it’s up to you to find out what that is so you can get out there and do it—because the world needs you, and living on purpose is always exciting. Press on!

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Ken Coleman

About the author

Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is America's Career Coach, the nationally syndicated radio host of The Ken Coleman Show and #1 national bestselling author. He has been featured in Forbes and appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, and the Rachael Ray Show. Since 2014, he has served at Ramsey Solutions, where he offers expert advice every day to help thousands of people discover what they were meant to do and how to land their dream job. Learn More.

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