Nine Ways to Battle Boredom at Work

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By Abby Wilner and Cathy Stocker

While researching our book, the most common complaint we heard from young professionals is that they are bored out of their minds at work.

Why, in an era of downsized work forces and increased work hours, are recent grads bored? Isn’t there plenty of work to go around? The fact is that supervisors are reluctant to assign too much responsibility to recent graduates who are just figuring out their jobs. When new hires take the initiative and ask for more work, they may find themselves with just another list of menial tasks that still only fill up a fraction of the work day.

If you feel yourself slipping into mindless and unproductive activities, take the following advice and work will feel more worthwhile.

  • Ask your boss or coworkers for a suggested list of respected background literature or publications in your field, or research your industry on the Internet.
  • Do some research on local professional development opportunities. You can start by looking at local community colleges or online course catalogues.
  • Set up a meeting with a coworker or supervisor to discuss the status of a project. Let him or her know that you are interested in becoming more involved.
  • Find out if your high school or college has an alumni database, and then try getting in touch with some alumni in your field to expand your network.
  • Work on your transferable skills, such as public speaking, business writing or power point slide presentations. Offer to pitch in on projects that need those skills.
  • Find a mentor at work to help you think of ways in which you can develop new skills or learn about different areas of your organization.
  • Get organized! If your desk is already spotless, offer to help organize the company library.
  • If you’ve made the above attempts to enhance your job and still run out of things to do, chase your wildest dreams. Got a book or movie idea? Start writing already!
  • Try our “Five Before Five Exercise”: write down five specific things you could do at work in one day to improve your situation, using the tips above as a guideline. Keep the list visible by your computer all day and try to get all the items done before you leave.

Only once you get through the list should you allow yourself to indulge in those guilty pleasures, such as surfing the Internet and visiting us at!

Abby Wilner and Cathy Stocker are authors of The Quarterlifer’s Companion, How to Get on the Right Career Path, Control Your Finances, and Find the Support Network You Need to Thrive.

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