“Hi, Anne. Please find the attached document you requested. As mentioned, Figure 1 contains the data which compares all the variables calculated from…”
Did reading that sentence bore you? Trust me, it was worse for me to write it.
We all get bored at work sometimes. Sitting at the same desk every day, for 8 hours a day, 261 days a year, while listening to Angela from accounting talk about her cats will eventually lead our minds astray.
(Who are we kidding, I’d love to hear about Bandit and Princess Lady. RIP Sprinkles 🙁 )
According to Psychology Today, people get bored when their brain lacks opioids, a chemical that makes us feel happy. To stimulate the release of opioids, we need to encounter a new experience. Something to give our brains a kick. FYI, we are talking about NATURAL things here.
So when I find myself slowly counting the paper clips at my desk, I know it’s time to take a break. As Laura Vanderkam puts it “If you don’t take a real break, your brain will take a fake one for you.” She’s the author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” so she’s got some street cred.
A Few Options For When You’re Bored At Work
There are many different types of breaks you can take when you’re feeling bored at work (and these options do not involve eating a Kit Kat bar).
- Walk over to your colleague and chat with them about the couple that waited three years on Tinder to finally meet.
- Educate yourself on what your brother’s girlfriend’s cousin ate for dinner on Instagram.
Option 1 isn’t bad. Talking with co-workers helps strengthen your relationships which can ultimately improve your 9-5 life. However, if you’re just standing and talking, your body still isn’t moving much.
Option 2 is only recommended if you are in need of a mental break. However, if you have been sitting at your desk for over an hour, you can read about how your organs are being damaged here.
That leads me to secret Option 3. Consider taking a 15-minute walk in order to take both a mental and physical break when you’re bored at work. Yes, physically unglue your bottom from your chair, move your legs and go outside if you can. Increase that brain blood flow to boost your oxygen levels and opioids.
Do you work downtown? Even better. Just step outside and let the city stimulate all six of your senses at once (sorry, I meant five, Haley Joel Osment always confuses me).
For example, experience:
– Sight: Are you watching those two rabid looking pigeons peck at each other? They both look more scraggly than the Wet Bandits from Home Alone.
– Hearing: Is that drummer around the corner playing the beat of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, or wait, could it also be “Complicated” by Avril?
– Touch: “Um, I didn’t eat anything sticky today…” you think to yourself as you feel your fingers. Nope, you didn’t, but you did just press that pedestrian button to cross the street.
– Taste: “Hey, this tastes just like vanilla!” you exclaim, as you lick that charcoal ice cream cone. (What, did you think it was going to taste like ash?)
– Smell: Oh yes, that downtown smell. The mix of hot garbage, urine and a touch of sweetness on a hot summer’s day reminds you how “great” it is to work in the city.
Now that your senses are probably way overstimulated, you’re ready to get back to your desk. Crank up Dr. Dre on your playlist and get yourself ready for the next episode of data entry.
Bonus: if you go for two walks a day,15 minutes each, your focus, attention levels will improve while your stress level will decrease.
Sounds like a win-win!
So the next time you find yourself staring at your report so hard that the words seemed to have rearranged themselves, please, do yourself a favor and take a real break by going for a walk.
(Secret option 4, if you’re really bored and don’t want to go for a walk, follow Ms. Yeah’s footsteps and cook yourself a gourmet meal using your office supplies. Don’t feel like doing data entry? No problem. You can get back at your computer by taking it apart and using it to create a makeshift stove to make pancakes.)
In the comments: what do you guys think is the best way to cure your yourself from feeling bored at work (besides switching jobs…)?