If you’re suffering from job apathy, you may need a circuit breaker to get you energised. We spoke with an employability expert about what to do when you’re bored at work.
It’s the night before you return to work and you’re consumed by a deep sense of dread. It feels like your days off whizzed by, and the week ahead stretches out before you like a strip of deserted highway. Bleak, unforgiving, and seemingly endless.
While being stuck in a temporary rut at work is one thing, prolonged periods of boredom or disengagement can have serious consequences.
‘Being bored at work can extend into other areas of our life,’ warns Rita Soares, Engagement and Employability Officer at La Trobe’s Bendigo Campus.
‘It can affect people’s physical and mental health, their relationships with family and loved ones, and make them depressed and anxious.’
The good news is there are some steps you can take to create positive change and rediscover your motivation.
Before you can start addressing boredom issues you have with your job, it’s a good idea to make sure they aren’t symptomatic of a deeper problem. ‘I think you need to ascertain whether the boredom is with your job or if it’s actually something else,’ says Soares. ‘It could be that you are dissatisfied with aspects of your life outside of work, or it could be a sign of something else altogether.
‘Speak to friends, speak to your GP, and try to ascertain whether you are feeling this way because you’re disengaged from your job, or whether there is something bigger that’s affecting you.
‘Some people have this idea that there is a perfect career out there that will solve all their problems, but we’re bound to feel monotony or boredom at work at one time or another.
‘There will always be difficult people to deal with, there will always be challenges and problems and obstacles, and there are always going to be aspects of our jobs that we don’t enjoy. It’s very rare to find something where you’re 100 per cent content with all the tasks that you’re doing.’
Once you can safely rule out other issues, the next step is to ask yourself what is causing your boredom, and what you can do to re-energise and motivate yourself. Is it simply that you’ve mastered all your tasks and need a new challenge?
‘Rather than waiting around for something to happen, I think we need to take agency and really look at all the untapped opportunities at work.
‘Have a chat with your boss and ask whether there are any opportunities for you to extend yourself, such as a secondment or starting a new project. It’s not possible in all workplaces, but when it is and your manager or supervisor is approachable, that’s definitely something I encourage people to do.
‘Maybe you could join a mentoring program, where you mentor a junior staff member, or if you’re interested in health and fitness, you could send an email around to get people involved in a walking group or a fun run. It doesn’t have to be related to your role.
‘I once worked at a call centre and wrote for the staff magazine of that organisation. In that way, I was able to engage some of my creativity and preferred skills, which got me motivated again about work and led me into other jobs in the future.’
Expanding your horizons
If you’ve checked out at work, further study could not only provide some mental stimulation, but also help you increase your earning potential and unlock a world of new opportunities.
‘There’s a whole range of courses that you can do, either offered by your organisation or externally,’ says Soares.
‘It could be something that bolsters your current career by advancing your skills in an area linked to your role, or it might allow you to change roles or industries entirely.
‘Sometimes when people have been in the workforce for a while, the idea of going back to study full time can be very daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a variety of courses on offer for working people. A lot of postgraduate courses start at the graduate certificate level, which might only take you six months to a year to complete.
‘Keep an open mind when exploring your options – look on LinkedIn, talk to people in different industries, browse course guides, or speak to a careers counsellor.
‘I’m very curious about people so I always ask questions like, “Where did you study, what did you study?” and sometimes they can tell you about things you never knew existed. This can open your eyes to new possibilities of careers.
‘For example, I knew a guy who had been an IT specialist all his working life, but who had a deep passion for music. He enrolled in a post-graduate course in music therapy in his forties, and now he plays the harpsichord to assist people experiencing pain in hospital alongside his full-time work.
‘It’s not something that’s related to his field at all, but it gets him energised again. It gives him a sense of purpose.
‘Sometimes studies can do that – they can be reinvigorating.’
Do you need to make some changes? Learn more about postgraduate study with us.