Monthly Archive for October, 2005

Boredom and Burnout Are a Deadly Pair

We all get bored with our jobs at one time or another. It’s a miserable feeling. Left unattended, boredom can get so intense and lasts so long that it results in burnout. When that happens, we are facing a costly and potentially dangerous threat to our health and our careers.

We can take some comfort in knowing we are not alone. Burnout has been called the biggest occupational hazard in the 21st century. There is also solace of sorts in realizing that boredom and burnout most often strike the brightest and best, the most ambitious of us.

Recognize The Classic Symptoms

Career Advice: The symptoms of boredom are easy to recognize. The victim no longer enjoys what he is doing. He dreads going to work. One wag said, “You know you are bored when it takes twice as long to drive to work in the morning as it does to get home at night.”

Being bored with some specific part of your job is different from suffering boredom with the job itself. In fact, it is not unusual to find at least one-half of the things we do on any given job are boring. Serious boredom is being tired of the whole scene, day in and day out.

JobTip: The signs of burnout are more serious. They include fatigue, low morale, absenteeism, fear, despair, hostility at home and on the job, increased health problems and drug or alcohol abuse.

Usually boredom and burnout grow out of such causes as our bringing more ability to a task over a period of time than the assignment warrants. In other words, we can do the job with half our brain and half our energy. There’s time to get bored. Or we suffer from frustrated ambitions; we are stuck on a rung of the ladder and see no way to the top. We expect more than life can deliver and we want it now. Or we may be buckling under relentless pressure.

Career Advice: Act Today

Act today to deal with boredom and burnout. Almost any positive action is better than sitting around in a funk. Every day we delay, we sink a little deeper in the hole of despair and discouragement. One expert on the matter says, “Most maddening is the self-torturing inertia. You know you should be doing more … that there are lots of things you could do, but then, what’s the use?”

Job Tips: How To Deal With The Deadly B’s

It takes a lot of good common sense, discipline and hard work to deal with boredom and burnout, the Deadly B’s.

If upon rational analysis you find you are bored with your job as a whole and not just some routine part of it, you should discuss the problem with your boss and ask for a transfer to another, more challenging position. (If you can’t discuss your feelings with your boss, you have a problem of another kind.)

If a transfer is not feasible, then you need to make a dedicated effort to enlarge your present responsibilities. Or find new ways to carry them out; learn new skills. Change your daily routine. Find life-enlarging interests aside from your job.

It helps to see your job in the context of the larger mission of the organization. That is, to understand that no matter how small, you are an integral part of the organization. What you do is important.

Boredom and burnout have a hard time surviving when you learn to take pride in your work and try constantly to improve what you do.

A final job tip: if none of these steps provide any relief, then you need to seriously consider moving on to another position with new challenges. But you should be careful about taking this extreme step. Be sure you are not running away from yourself and the realities of the challenges and periods of boredom that are inevitable parts of life.