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Embracing boredom at work is better instead of powering through

AFP – No matter how much you enjoy your job, certain tasks can still feel monotonous. However, a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology indicates that workplace boredom doesn’t have to be a negative experience.

In fact, recognising and properly handling boredom might actually boost productivity. The researchers arrived at this insight through three separate studies. One of these involved dual-career couples who completed multiple daily surveys, allowing the researchers to assess the long-term effects of boredom on cognitive ability and productivity.

It turns out that boredom isn’t all bad.

This emotion can stimulate creativity by prompting us to observe our surroundings and look for new ideas to change the situation.

Above all, we shouldn’t try to fight it at all costs, according to Assistant Professor of Management at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business Casher Belinda, who is lead author of the study.

“Like whack-a-mole, downplaying boredom on one task results in attention and productivity deficits that bubble up during subsequent tasks. Paradoxically, then, trying to suppress boredom gives its harmful effects a longer shelf life,” the researcher explained in a news release.

PHOTO: ENVATO

It’s possible to minimise the negative effects of boredom so that this emotion does not become a source of professional anguish. According to Belinda and colleagues, it’s important to organise the workday in such a way that boring tasks don’t follow on from each other, or take up the entire working day.

“Following an initial boring task, employees should turn to other meaningful tasks to help restore lost energy,” said the study’s lead author.

For example, you shouldn’t spend your morning answering emails if this task doesn’t stimulate you intellectually.

Instead, devote a few hours to that particular task before moving on to missions that you find more interesting or more rewarding.

WATCH FOR SIGNS

Boredom is, above all, a consequence of our actions. This emotional state arises when we find it hard to become absorbed in the activity we’re undertaking.

The best strategy, therefore, is to reflect on what causes it, so as to be able to influence the course of events and avoid becoming passive.

Because boredom is problematic when it becomes chronic. Employees who come to work every day dragging their feet can feel a sense of helplessness and weariness that leads them to boreout.

This expression is commonly used to describe boredom-related burnout. The prevalence of this condition is particularly difficult to quantify, as it’s taboo to complain about being paid to do nothing.

Nevertheless, Christian Bourion, a French academic who has explored the subject, estimates that 30 per cent of French people suffer from this syndrome.

While the causes of boredom can be diverse, employees who are bored in their jobs often feel a deep sense of uselessness and a major lack of motivation. They tend to lose self-confidence, feel guilty and isolate themselves. Eventually, going to work becomes a real ordeal for them.

As always in the workplace, it’s vital to talk to your superiors and human resources managers about your unhappiness to prevent it from eating away at you.

Boredom is the result of managerial failings that trap employees in a falsely comfortable professional routine. It’s perfectly possible to overcome it by asking for new assignments or taking a training course. Taking stock of your competencies with a skills assessment can also be a very useful way of bouncing back, whether in your current company or elsewhere.

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