As an employee or as a boss, boredom in the workplace can be damaging to all. Bosses certainly don’t want bored employees, as this leads to unfavorable outcomes such as sloppy work and unmotivated spirits. As an employee who experiences boredom, we learn how apparently excruciating this feeling is for our brains—so much so that we’d rather feel pain itself.

Boredom at work happens. Depending on the cause, the solution can be either a simple fix or perhaps a huge lifestyle change. No matter where you fall on the company hierarchy, there are ways that you can alleviate boredom both for yourself and for others in order to improve the overall workplace productivity and culture.

Ask for More Work

Obvious: A lack of work to do leads to boredom. Some jobs can be mindless or monotone, perhaps requiring you to surf the web for hours on end or complete stacks of paperwork. Others just don’t provide you with enough work to fill the hours that are expected of you.

Be open with your boss about your current work situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibilities and tasks so that you can be a more useful worker. If they say yes, you may be given a project that requires more skill and will therefore engage your brain. Or, maybe you’ll be given enough work to fill your hours. Either way, you’re feeling more productive as well as appreciated by your company since they trust that you can handle more responsibility.

The worst outcome that could happen is your boss says no—but hey, at least they know you are driven to excel. They might just not have something for you to do at the moment, but if that time comes, they know you’re ready to step up.

Make Something to Do

There simply may just not be enough work for you to do. If that’s the case, make something to do. Go above and beyond in your tasks that you have the most interest in. Or, if you really don’t have much work, go above and beyond in every task you do. This will help cure your boredom as well as make you look like an incredibly effective employee.

As for those in charge, find ways to keep your staff stimulated at all times. If you’re overwhelmed or see other people on your team struggling to keep up with their work, distribute some of those responsibilities to people who need their time better filled.

There is always something that can be done! Reorganize your desk and files, catch up on emails and phone calls, or lend a hand to someone who needs assistance.

Spread Your Work

In some cases, it’s not the amount of work, or lack thereof, that’s causing the boredom. Instead, it’s the type of work. If you’re doing monotonous, repetitive tasks most of your day, it’s no wonder you’re bored!

Most jobs have busy work, but that doesn’t mean that’s all you should be doing. If you have a decent amount of monotonous jobs, try to plan it out in a strategic schedule. Spread out the times when you do busy work and when you’re working on more stimulating projects. If your schedule allows, make it so that you do a little of one and then a little of another. That way, your brain doesn’t get into a funk with the menial tasks.

As someone higher up in the company food chain, do your best to disperse your staff’s busy work equally. If possible, make sure everyone has a variety of work to do, not each person working on one thing.

Get Social

Make individual work teamwork. Start a conversation about a task one of you is working on. Collaborate with others whenever you can. Invite constructive criticism and feedback. Not only will this occupy your mind and cure your boredom, you’ll also improve the outcome of your tasks while creating strong relationships with your colleagues.

Hold engaging meetings or brainstorming sessions if you have the power to do so. This is a great way to get everyone together for a productive purpose.

Always find ways to be connecting with others. Instead of emailing or calling across cubicles, walk over to their office and have a conversation. Soon enough, you’ll be working with friends. How can that be boring?

Build Your Skillset

Another complaint of people who are bored at work is that they don’t feel like they are being utilized to their full potential. According to Fisher Investments, employees aren’t taught new skills to become a better asset in the workplace.

If this is fitting to you, take matters into your own hands. Use the time when you’re bored to teach yourself new skills. You can simply do some online research to build up your knowledge of your work and find ways to improve the work you’re already doing.

Another way to improve your skill set would be to enroll in an online class that has a flexible schedule. That way, you can work on your class when things get slow at work, and you’re becoming a better employee all at the same time.

Be Selective

One of the biggest, and most concerning, reasons for boredom at work is that there is no linkage between the work people are doing and their own interests, according to Psychology Today. In other words, people have no passion for their job.

This case is really problematic for all levels of the workplace paradigm. If this is the root of your boredom at work, you should take time to consider how deep of a problem it truly is. Perhaps you may have to take extreme measures of finding a new job that is more suitable to your interests.

For hiring managers, make sure a key component of the workers you hire is their passion for their work. It will save you a lot of time in the long run as your employees are a lot less likely to become unproductive or quit.

Boredom in the workplace can happen even to the most valuable and dedicated employees. Find out the source of your boredom and be proactive in combating it. Find small ways to motivate yourself and keep your brain engaged in the work you do. If you can do this successfully, you’ll build a better environment for yourself and everyone else around you.

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