Feeling bored at work? Here’s what science says you should and shouldn’t do

There are plenty of ways you can cure the boredom you feel at work, but not all of them are wise. For instance, watching something on Netflix would fall under the category of “not wise”. According to a new paper that will soon be published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, there’s a better, wiser solution to fixing boredom: finding a way to make your work more interesting.

If the problem at hand is that your work doesn’t feel meaningful, you may be able to reengage by locating a sense of purpose outside your immediate job description. Yale professor of management, Amy Wrzesniewski, calls this approach “job crafting”. For example, she found in one study that hospital janitors were deeply satisfied with their work because they understood their primary purpose as engaging with the patients whose rooms they cleaned, and they acted accordingly.

Mentally reframing the task at hand as a game can also pay dividends. The game? Find ways to appreciate and value whatever it that we’re being paid to do. Another strategy is to make a given task less boring by adding a layer of challenge—say, setting a timer to speed through a pile of paperwork or deciding to write an otherwise run-of-the-mill memo in the form of a sonnet.

Whatever it may be that you do to cure your boredom, just don’t choose pleasurable entertainment such as Netflix. Research tells us it will only increase the chances that we’ll be bored more often.

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