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Why Boredom at Work Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Feeling unengaged or not motivated? Stop feeling guilty and learn to embrace boredom at work with these tips.

By Hannah Ross  •   March 15, 2022  •   7 min read

It’s normal to fear boredom at work, but that doesn’t mean it’s something you should actively avoid. Embracing boredom at work is largely viewed in a negative light, but that’s only because the vast majority of people aren’t harnessing their downtime or making the most of their boredom. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the root causes of boredom, in addition to covering the surprising benefits of boredom at work and teaching you how to embrace the boredom by turning it into something positive. 

What causes boredom?

Simply defined, boredom is having nothing to do. Boredom at work is often a result of feeling unmotivated or disengaged. You may feel as though you have nothing substantial or fulfilling to work on and as a result, you may express a lack of interest or have trouble concentrating. 

Boredom is a universal experience and is often described as a negative emotion. What many people fail to realize is that boredom can be viewed in a much more positive light. With the proper mindset, you can harness your boredom and turn it into a positive experience. This downtime can be used to rest, reset, or even learn a new skill. 

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The connection between boredom and creativity 

We often do our best work when we unplug and hone in on feelings of discomfort. We don’t usually give ourselves the opportunity to explore our inner emotions or passions, and as a result, our creativity is hindered. Tapping into your boredom and harnessing that time to dive into your psyche and get your creative juices flowing is one of the best things you can do to start using your downtime more efficiently. When we embrace boredom, we enter a state of daydream that allows our minds to wonder and create without distraction. 

Benefits of boredom at work

1     Gives our brain a break 

The benefits of boredom at work are bountiful. It’s no secret that burnout is more common than ever, and if you never give your brain a break, you’ll most likely suffer from a serious case. It can be hard to press pause, especially when we feel like we need to work, but sometimes our brains can greatly benefit from a much-needed break. When your mind starts to work in overdrive, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus, stay on track, and remain motivated. To avoid reaching this point, embrace boredom at work and give your brain a moment to reset. 

2     Allows time to explore interests

It can be difficult to find time to explore your own interests, even if they’re work related. Finding an employer that trusts you to manage your own time means you’ll have the ability to capitalize on your boredom by developing different interests or honing in on new skills. Instead of scrolling aimlessly on your phone or stressing about your to-do list, you can make use of your boredom by doing something that your future self will thank you for. 

Developing new skills or exploring additional interests will help you ultimately become a better employee. Not only will you have the capacity to take on different projects outside of your current scope, but you’ll also have more skills and a greater capability to collaborate with your teammates. Online courses and virtual workshops are both tools you can leverage to explore new interests while combating boredom at work. 

3     Motivates us to switch goals or tasks 

If you fail to innovate and grow within your career, you may end up feeling unfulfilled or stagnant. A great way to combat these feelings of discontent is to take a proactive stance and plan for your future. When you have downtime, you unlock the ability to explore your options and reevaluate your goals. When you take the time to jump out of the day to day and dive into long-term planning and strategy, you may realize that you want to shift your focus or spend your time, energy, and effort elsewhere. 

6 ways to embrace boredom at work

1     Cancel meetings without an agenda 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: no agenda, no attenda! Meetings without an agenda are a huge waste of time, and there’s no harm in opting out of these meetings if you feel like your time could be better used elsewhere. Instead of filling up your calendar with meaningless meetings, learn to embrace the boredom and try something new. If your meetings aren’t effective or worthwhile, it’s time to switch things up and spend your time on something else. 

2     Block ‘creative thinking’ time 

Blocking creative time is a great way to combat boredom at work! Instead of letting boredom sneak up on you, take a proactive stance and block any additional time you may have for creativity. The options are endless! What’s most important is that you get your creative juices flowing by taking the time to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Maybe you’re getting crafty with a sculpting kit? Maybe you’re taking the time to write a journal entry or some poetry? If you aren’t sure where to start, maybe doodle in your notebook and see where your mind takes you! Creative time should be fun, so do what feels right and embrace where your mind takes you.

3     Get lost in a fiction story

When was the last time you got lost in a good book? It’s probably been a while, right? We normally save leisurely reading for vacations or nighttime, but there’s no harm in pulling out a story you’ve been dying to read if you have a little downtime. The benefits of reading are insurmountable, and diving into a good book when you’re suffering from boredom at work is never a waste of time. 

Additionally, reading is a form of escapism and can help you stabilize and manage your mood, while giving your brain a break from your everyday work. Switching things up is a great way to help you realign and focus on what matters most. 

4     Sit in silence 

Sitting in silence can be scary, especially if you’re prone to overworking or constantly running with a new idea. If you’re the type of person to always have something on the go, then this tip is for you. Learning to sit in silence is a forgotten art and is often underappreciated. If the thought of sitting in silence makes you antsy, start with baby steps. Simple breathing techniques will have you relaxing in no time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you don’t have to become a master at meditating overnight. 

5     Shorten your meetings 

Meetings are essential, but long meetings are not. If you notice your meetings are frequently running longer than scheduled or simply could be much shorter, don’t be afraid to speak up or make adjustments. Taking back your time if you feel as though it could be better used elsewhere is your right, and you shouldn’t be afraid to make that choice if you feel it’s appropriate. Shortening your meetings will also ensure the meetings that you’re hosting or attending are being run much more efficiently. 

6     Put your phone away  

We live in a digital era, and our default is to pick up our phone any time we have a moment to spare. Instead of automatically defaulting to your phone when you feel bored, take the opportunity to embrace the silence and make use of your time. Forming healthier habits that contribute to your future success is a much wiser choice. Instead of getting sucked into social media on your mobile device, consider filling your time with an online course or partaking in a creative hobby. You can learn a new language, start crafting, or add a digital marketing certificate to your resume—the opportunities are truly endless! 

Embracing boredom at work can be life-changing 

The days of feeling guilty or miserable at work are gone! Now that you’re aware of the many benefits of boredom at work, you can begin to harness your downtime to sharpen your skill sets, tap into your creativity, and set yourself up for future success. Remember, boredom at work isn’t a bad thing; you’ve simply been approaching the matter with a closed mindset. Opening your mind and learning to embrace boredom in creative ways means you’ll develop new skills, become happier and more inspired, and no longer dread your downtime. The results are truly life-changing! 

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