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Bored At Work? The Grand and Not So Grand Facets

You’re probably rolling your eyes and mentally scoffing as you read the title. After all, in today’s fast-paced marketplace, you and most of your fellow executives are screaming overload—not boredom! The reality is underneath all the frenetic activities and disengaged workers, as a Strategic Executive Coach, I often uncover a bored employee.

Suppose for a moment, after peeling away the layers of your daily busyness; you discover you’re stuck in the monotonous rut of your job—each project in one way or another replicating the one before ad nausea. What’s an executive to do?

The first thing to realize is that a calendar overflowing with activities doesn’t necessarily denote a winning formula for leadership. In many cases, it demonstrates the reverse.

The success factor for followers is to be skilled at checking one “to-do-chore” after another off the list. Their contribution more often than not is based upon observable, completed tasks.

Not so leaders—no matter their level. They often expend much of their effort in the blue sky windows of their mind such as contemplating and planning the future of their organizations. And for this non-linear, innovative pursuit, being bored actually signals to the brain that you’re in need of fresh ideas and spurs creative thinking.

Take a leaf out of Warren Buffett’s playbook, along with other well-respected leaders, who highly tout the “empty calendar concept.” Instead of doing more, Buffet focuses on thinking time which leads to seizing opportunities!

Few of us sit at the top of the organization. Your responsibilities to the company, in all likelihood, are more directed toward producing outcomes rather than, carving time out of your calendar for reflection and innovation. Yet, these are critical elements for advancing your ability to seize the moment in your career just as Buffett does in the investment world.

The not so grand aspect of boredom is that it can lead to disengagement, which doesn’t bode well for your career momentum. Backing-up this assertion: an informal polling of career experts reveals that more believe boredom tops stress in terms of the most damage you can suffer as an employee. And in another survey, when asked: “Does your work excite you?” 45.5 percent of those surveyed said no. That’s a whole lot of people who are bored at work!

Here are two quick-hit tips for overcoming the not so good of boredom.

  1. Laugh and Play: Boredom can’t exist when you’re enjoying the moment. Perhaps that’s why progressive, innovative companies encourage their creative’s to take a break for inspiration. Try it out. You’ll see how fast it switches on the “pleasure-to-be-back-in-business” cogs of your thinking.
  2. Stop Procrastinating: The very concept of holding back instead of jumping into the tough, challenging, overwhelming projects on your plate is a slippery slope setting you up for boredom. If you’re not working on the big, scary, stimulating job at hand, what are you doing? All the piddly, little reward, little effort, little growth assignments. You’re asking to be bored!

There are two kinds of boredom: one that leads to original thought, relaxation, and renewal; and the other harms your today because you’re not truly living, as well as your future, because you’re restricting your development. What facet of the equation are you resting on now—the grand or the not so grand?

 

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