Bored or overworked? Crying out for work or drowning in it? Some call it focus, overdrive, or obsession. But being too on the ball, too busy, or spread too thinly across tasks can impact your productivity. Likewise, being too bored can put you right off your work. Clearly, there needs to be a balance of the right kind of boredom to achieve a particular task.
Boredom that sets your mind free from your day to day tasks can be useful for inspirational, blue sky thinking. That sort of sedate boredom can allow you to glimpse the flaw in a plan or imagine the solution to a tricky problem.
However, too much boredom while glued to a task can see you tinkering with an idea that was perfectly good, going overboard on a presentation, or ruining a pitch. So, you need to learn your boredom threshold and notice when it is starting to interfere.
For most of us, when we need to get things done, being bored won’t help. In that case, you need to engage your brain, either directly with your task or by shaking things up with a challenge that makes the work more palatable.
If the task itself is inherently boring, then breaking it into pieces and giving yourself artificial targets or rewards as you complete the task is a quick and easy way to make those charts, spreadsheets, or other projects go by a little faster.
Boredom vs Overload
Similarly, being overloaded won’t help your focus. Instead, most of us need the right level of workload. It’s all about finding the appropriate amount of distraction and the right type of environment to maximize your productivity while ensuring your mind is the main task ahead of you. All the while ensuring that what you’re doing isn’t sapping your creative energy.
In the office, some tasks are better performed when there is office banter to be enjoyed, while others are best consigned to a closed room with few distractions. Figuring out which task belongs in which kind of environment can be tough, but trial and error can help.
As for people, smartphones, the news on TV, choosing what diversions are around can be a tough balance to reach. But when you’re in the zone, tasks will fly by and you can achieve more.
Strategic boredom, as some call it, enables people to focus free of distraction. Finding that right mental space or approach can come from many areas; some like to get in touch with nature thanks to a walk in the park and others listen to some classical or ambient trance music.
Beat Being Bored
To quote eighties British pop act The Pet Shop Boys’ song Being Boring; “she was never bored, because she was never boring.” Their words are a useful guide for getting entrepreneurs, knowledge workers, and the ever-rushed in the right frame of mind for any task.
If you find yourself bored, then something is not right either with the tasks facing you or in your mind. Whatever the mission, it all too easy to prevaricate, to find other things to do, or to simply find yourself distracted. In your office there needs to be a dividing line between work and focus.
If you are bored at work, then you may need to find a new task to do, if the current ones aren’t fulfilling your work needs. Talking to colleagues, a boss or partners might help find something more suited.
If you find yourself bored after work, then there are more cures, depending on budget and facilities, and your age. No one is suggesting a mid-life parachuting binge might help get your focus back, but seeing what’s out there and trying new things can all get the brain motivated and back in gear.
As ever, if you’ve got a great strategy or plan for overcoming boredom, do let us know. Or what’s the most extreme thing you’ve done to kick personal boredom in the pants? Did it help and make a difference to your overall outlook on boredom or productivity?