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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Inexcusable Mistakes You're Probably Making if You're Bored at Work

Unless you’re one of the lucky few, at some point you’ll end up in a position that you find to be incredibly boring. And I get it. If you can do your job in your sleep, it can be easy to lose the motivation to do it well.

But here’s the thing—even if watching a yule log sounds more appealing than your 9-to-5, there are a few mistakes that your boredom might lead to that are inexcusable. And while you can blame the fact you’re “not stimulated,” at the end of the day, it’s all on you.

1. You’re Unresponsive When Your Colleagues Need You

When your job puts you to sleep, it’s tempting to say, “Hey, there’s a video of cats playing with water bottles I’ve been meaning to watch. I’ll just take the rest of the afternoon to catch up on it.” And sure, there are times when you've been working so hard that you should take a few minutes to get up to date on whatever viral content all your friends are watching.

The only problem is that when you’re bored, it’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing these “really quick side projects.” And even though you don’t love what you do, the people you work with still have things they need to get done. So when they need your help on a project, it’s up to you to continue following through—especially when you know that they can’t move forward without you.

It’s not your colleagues’ fault that you’re unhappy, so really, don’t take it out on them by not caring about deadlines.

2. You’re Complaining at the Office

OK, there are plenty of TV shows that make it seem like complaining about your job or company while sitting at your desk is par for the course. While it might look like a good way to blow off some steam before you get back to your not-so-exciting tasks, you’re doing more harm than good.

For starters, you run the risk of having someone you’re not particularly close to overhear what you have to say—which can be incredibly damaging if that person also happens to be in charge (or a tattletale). But more importantly, you also forget that you probably work with a few folks who are pretty satisfied with their work.

Not only are you irritating those people, but if they’re in a position to help you to move on to something more exciting (either at your current company or down the road at another organization), you’re not putting yourself in a good position to approach them later on. After all, who’d want to recommend the guy who complained about everything, every single day.

3. You’re Not Looking for Something New

When you’re bored with what you do, it’s up to you to do something to change that. Whether that means taking on additional responsibilities that might be more interesting or starting a search for something new, nobody’s going to volunteer to do that work for you.

If it’s just your job itself that’s tedious and you're happy with your company, consider looking into an internal transfer.

And if you’re not satisfied with either your job or company, don’t rule out just launching a job search. Sure, it can be stressful and uncertain at times, but unless you’re willing to do something you find boring for the next few years, this is one of the best ways you can change the way you feel about going to work every day.

If you’re dragging yourself to the office Monday through Friday to do something you know will make you yawn, don’t worry—you’re not alone. However, that doesn’t let you off the hook for these basic mistakes you’re prone to making when you don’t find what you do particularly exciting.

And while it’s always easier to point the finger, if you’re interested in improving your situation, take a hard look in the mirror and think deeply about how you can start making a change—because you can.

Photo of bored person courtesy of JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images.