I remember like it was yesterday when I was a kid and I felt bored. “I’m bored” is not an uncommon feeling in adults too. Being bored doesn’t happen as much to me these days but when it does, I now know some strategies to get rid of boredom quickly. Boredom comes in different shapes and sizes with physical and emotional elements. Sometimes you feel restless, other times you feel like your body is dragging. Sometimes the mind feels numb, other times your mind wanders. Boredom often happens because we are so practiced at something that we end up going through the motions without much engagement. Our body moves through the task but our mind is elsewhere or nowhere. And that is boring!
Are you on autopilot somewhere in your life? Where does that happen for you? Making meals for you and your family? At work? In yet another meeting? While exercising? During downtime on weekends? It is easy to find yourself bored when your energy is lagging—and I will assume that you are getting enough nourishment from healthy eating and sleep. Fortunately renewed energy usually comes back with some simple approaches: newness or challenge.
Find Something New. Often the reason we are bored is that we are repeating the same thing over and over again. And that gets old. Although it is useful and needed to repeat some activities, it is easy to get into a rut when we do some activity too often. We default to the same dinner or breakfast every night because it is easy. We repeat the format for the weekly executive meeting because that’s the way we always have done it. That’s fine if you aren’t bored by it. But if you are bored, find something new! It can be as easy as making a small adjustment just to shake things up. For instance, have dinner out once a week or assign running the regular meeting to a different person each week. Often, however, you need something bigger to get rid of boredom. Yes we are talking about change. Ah, the dreaded change word. Well, it is dreaded for many people, and for others, change is fun. Usually the difference is that people who love change get bored easily and have found that change cures it. Others don’t want as much change because they need a certain routine in their life. There are huge individual differences! But if you are reading this because you are bored, then it’s time to get on the change bandwagon or you will stay stuck in your boredom rut! So try something new and see if that helps increase your energy and reduce your boredom. (For more on change, see Nurturing Braveness for Change).
Challenge Yourself. Another reason we experience boredom is because we don’t feel challenged by the task. If you aren’t engaged in the activity—there is no challenge. Without challenge, the mind, body and soul can feel adrift and get bored. So find an activity that does challenge you. The challenge can be mental, like solving a problem or writing a presentation. It can be emotional like working through an issue with a colleague, friend or loved one. Or it can be physical like taking on a long difficult hike or clearing out your basement clutter. Challenge yourself and watch as the boredom melts away.
Make Plans. Finding something that is new or challenging isn’t going to just come to you—unless it does. But more often than not, you need to stop what you are doing and think of an alternative. That’s called planning. List five new activities you can do on a weekend for fun. Look up free classes you can take on the topic of your choice. Sign up for a 5K run and then set up your workout plan to get ready for the challenge. Meet with your team and make plans together to change the way you conduct your meetings. Glance through a cooking magazine or cookbook and clip a week’s worth of meals that sound delicious. Brainstorm with a friend, family member, or coach or get a book to give you ideas but take a moment to come up with some ideas of what you can do. Then…
Just do it. Thank you Nike. They have it right. Often the best advice when you are bored and can’t get the energy to do something different or challenging is to do it anyway! Making plans is wonderful, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t implement. Push yourself to take on a new challenge, take on a new responsibility at work, shop for the ingredients for your clipped dinner recipes, buy some paint and paint your room a new color. Whatever it is that sounds like it would be great, if you could just get yourself to start—just start! If you can’t do it alone, ask someone to help you. Sign up for something and don’t back out. Before you know it, you will be engaged in the activity and will feel the satisfaction of no longer being bored. It is absolutely worth the push to bring some energy and excitement back into your work or personal life.
Share with us below what you are going to do to stave off your boredom. The more you share the more you will get psyched to just do it and the more you will be re-energized!