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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

4 Things to Try if You're Bored at Work But Not Ready to Quit Yet

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Going to work used to excite you. But these days, you’re pressing your snooze button a couple of times, and your go-to mantra’s become, “At least it’s almost Friday.”

Sure, you don’t hate what you do now—hate is such a strong word. And, you’re not quite ready to pack up your office supplies and quit. That’s a big decision, and before you put the time into a long search, you want to know you did everything you could to make your current job work.

So, if the motivation and passion you used to feel is at an all-time low, try the options below to see if you can make a job you’ve outgrown work for you again.

1. Offer to Help Other Departments

When you help others, you’ll often learn about projects that are outside of your normal day-to-day routine. And trying out new kinds of work can make your job interesting again. Plus, people will see that they can count on you, making you a reliable and valuable asset to others at work.

So, if you see something that intrigues you, you can say something along the lines of:

“My schedule is very flexible on Wednesday and Friday, and I’d love to lend a hand to [project] if that would be helpful.”

2. Be an Expert at What You Love

When I was struggling to find meaning at work, I made a conscious decision to discover what I actually enjoyed doing. I realized that I wanted to be more creative than my position allowed me to be, so I started looking for ways to infuse my creativity wherever I could.

At times, it definitely took more work. And initially some people were surprised (yes, even confused and hesitant) that I was constantly asking to help with creative projects. But, eventually, my co-workers started tapping me for this expertise and I became the go-to person for projects that required some imagination.

To get other people on board, I’d say something like: “I saw that you’re working on a presentation for our new client. I’m really good at graphic design and I’d love to help. Do you have some free time this week to loop me in so I can come up with some sketches for you?”

After the project is done, follow up with: “Anytime you need help with graphic design in the future, please don’t hesitate to let me know. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”

Over time, the balance will shift and you’ll no longer have to keep pitching to others what you like to do best. People will start asking you to use your talents and assigning you those parts of the project. Once you’re doing more of what you love, you’ll be more excited about going to work each day.

3. Step out of Your Comfort Zone

You’re doing the same things every day, and it’s boring the heck of out of you. But, be honest: Is that because no one ever approaches you with anything new, or because the last few times a boss or co-worker asked if you’d be interested in trying something else, you declined?

There are lots of reasons why (even completely bored) people might turn down interesting opportunities. That’s because, instead of the opportunity coming with a flashing sign that reads: “Interesting!” or “Exciting!” the message you see might be more along the lines of a “difficult, new, with a risk of failure.”

But sometimes, the only way to do new and exciting things is to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. I get that it can be challenging, so the next time there’s an opportunity you’re thinking of passing on because it’s unfamiliar, ask a question instead. Try, “Could you explain a bit more about [whatever you’re confused about]?”

Sometimes the trick to making your job more exciting is stepping out of your own way.

4. Talk to Your Boss

Yes, the best managers have a pretty good idea of how engaged their employees are. But, they’re still not mind readers.

If your job was fulfilling to you early on, and you haven’t spoken to your boss about it since, he may have no idea how bored you are. Or maybe, you broached the subject and got assigned a new project, so he assumes the problem is solved. (But in reality, you’re still not happy.)

Because you’ve tried the steps above and still aren’t happy, you’ll be able to approach your supervisor with more information. You’ll be able to share how you tried to troubleshoot your workload, but it still isn’t right.

Try this:

“I’d love to touch base with you about my current workload. Over the past [time frame], I’ve volunteered on [team names] and also taken on more work related to [your interest area], but I still feel there’s so much more I could do. Are there other projects where I could add value?”

The fact that you accepted your job tells me that you were excited about it—or at least thought it was the best option—at one point. And so, I understand why you might hesitate to pack up and leave before giving it one last push.

So try these tactics above. And if you’re still dreading the workday after that, consider looking for something new. The fact that you tried your best to make it work means you won’t look back and wonder if you could’ve done anything differently.

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