Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves? – Nietzsche
Are You Feeling Bored?
Boredom is an emotional state of being disinterested. It’s an uncomfortable resistance to doing nothing. In other words, being bored is not a pleasant experience. It’s rather a painful process you go through when you have nothing better to do with yourself and your time that often awakens the emotions of stress, anxiety, and frustration.
Boredom isn’t necessarily a negative or limiting emotion. It only becomes so when you resist the experience of the moment. In fact, if you offer no resistance, boredom can actually help you relax by encouraging stillness, mindfulness and periods of contemplation. In fact, letting go of resistance to boredom can often give you the space you need to generate insightful ideas, to make better decisions, and to take more purposeful action. Moreover, boredom provides you with the perfect opportunity to figure things out or to absorb yourself fully within your experience. It presents you with an avenue for self-expression and a challenge to help you make the most of every moment.
It’s also important to note that incredibly valuable and precious time is wasted throughout the day because you give in to your feelings of boredom. There is so much that you could do, so many things you could focus on, and an incredible array of avenues for self-expression. Boredom in some ways traps you in a prison of your own limited thinking. Not only does it lead to unproductive behavior, but also deflates your levels of motivation and the desire to get things accomplished.
Types of Boredom
There are essentially two types of boredom:
- You are bored because you find the task or activity boring.
- You are bored because you believe you have absolutely nothing to do with your time.
In the first example, you’re simply missing the mental stimulation and the creativity to get the task completed successfully. Within the second example, you are lacking the motivation and the desire to find a valuable and purposeful use of your time and energy. Either way, you are wasting time and succumbing to unproductive habits-of-mind.
Reasons Why You’re Feeling Bored
There are of course some very real and valid reasons why you might be feeling bored. Here is a partial list of those reasons:
- You are indulging in the habit of procrastination.
- You are stuck in a monotonous repetitive cycle of tasks, activities, and routines.
- You lack energy, direction and/or focus.
- You simply don’t have enough mental stimulation to keep your mind interested and engaged.
- You don’t feel as though you are being challenged enough.
- You are indecisive.
- You are lacking inspiration and/or motivation.
- You absolutely have no imagination. At least not during moments of boredom.
These are the main reasons why you are feeling bored. And it is within these reasons where the solutions to your boredom can be found. Simply go through this list and correct each of these areas to get yourself out of your bored state.
Completing Boring Tasks
You might be feeling bored because you are working on a task you need to complete that is unbearably painful and repetitive. Working on this task almost seems to change the rules of time and space. Time just drags on-and-on, and you seem to be making very little progress. Everything is just monotonous and difficult, and you just can’t stand it. All you want to do is escape the situation and do something more stimulating and fun.
Unfortunately, there are some tasks and activities that you won’t be able to escape from. You just have to knuckle down and do them. Yes, the task is boring, but someone’s got to do it, so why not you?
If you find yourself in this predicament, don’t despair. There are certain things you can do that will allow you make the task more interesting, fun, and enjoyable. And most importantly, these ideas might even help move time a little faster.
Identify Why You’re Feeling Bored
To begin with, it’s important to pinpoint the reasons why exactly you’re feeling bored. This might seem like an obvious question. However, asking and then answering this question might, in fact, bring some important and unexpected factors to light. Ask yourself:
Why am I feeling bored?
Am I feeling lazy or tired?
Am I simply unmotivated?
Am I lacking confidence in myself?
Am I lacking focus and direction?
Am I just trying to avoid doing something? Maybe I’m procrastinating?
Am I being indecisive?
Do I simply lack imagination?
Is this task simply not challenging enough?
Why else might I be feeling bored?
There is a real and valid reason why you’re feeling bored right now. In fact, there could be more than one reason. As such, it’s absolutely paramount that you pinpoint the specific reasons for your boredom. Once identified, you will be in a far more optimal position to make the necessary adjustments to spice up the task you’re working on.
Clarify Your Work Objectives
Having identified why you’re feeling bored, it’s now important to take some time to clarify your desired objectives for the task at hand. Ask yourself:
What do I want to do?
What must I accomplish?
What is stopping me from doing this?
Gaining clarity about what it is you want to accomplish, as-well-as having a clear understanding about what is preventing you from completing this task successfully, will help you to make better choices and decisions moving forward to spice up your boring task in creative ways.
Explore the Benefits
Moving forward will require a little motivation. The best way to find the motivation you need to get through this task successfully is to consider the benefits. Ask yourself:
Why is completing this task important?
How will I benefit from getting this done?
The more benefits you can find, the more motivation you will muster within yourself. And with motivation comes the desire you need to complete this task quickly, successfully and maybe even creatively. If anything, it opens the doors to new possibilities because suddenly you’re engaged in this activity instead of just being present and detached from the outcome.
Find Ways to Spice Up the Task
There are a number of ways to spice up the task you’re working on that will almost immediately get you out of a bored mental state.
For starters, brainstorm ways you could potentially spice up the task you are working on to make it more fun and interesting. Ask yourself:
How could I turn this task into a game?
How could I make this task more fun, enjoyable and interesting?
Alternatively, find ways to make the task more mentally stimulating and engaging. Ask yourself:
How could I make this task more challenging?
What if I turned this task into a problem that I needed to solve?
How would I go about solving this problem?
Finally, look at ways you could potentially change the task in a different and creative way. Ask yourself:
Is there another way I could do this task?
What’s a creative way I could potentially undertake this task?
There are plenty of possibilities here. Some of them will work for you, while others won’t. You might need to go through some trial and error. However, in the end with a little persistent effort, you can certainly spice up your task in some very creative and enjoyable ways.
Break Your Task into Small Pieces
At times you might find it helpful to break your task down into small pieces. Not only will this make the task more manageable, it might even encourage you to tackle the task in a slightly different way.
The problem with trying to bite off more than you can chew is that things can quickly become overwhelming. And when they become overwhelming, it’s easy to tune-out and fall into the trap of procrastination. This is especially true with non-urgent tasks that don’t have any time constraints.
When you break a task down into smaller pieces, you immediately begin seeing things somewhat differently. Your approach to the task changes and this can likewise help you to relieve your feelings of boredom.
Shift Your Perspective About the Task
A creative way to work through your task is to shift your perspective about the task in a slightly unusual and unexpected way. For instance, try asking yourself:
How would a child do this task?
How would a scientist undertake this task?
What would Bill Gates do?
How would a cartoonist work through this task?
If a dog could do this, what approach would it take?
How would an ant manage its way through this task?
What would Harry Potter do?
How about Bugs Bunny? How would he handle this task?
What if this task was a bomb that I needed to deactivate within a certain time frame? What then?
If nothing more, these questions will help stimulate your imagination — helping you to expand your perspective on what could be possible the moment you begin thinking outside the box. Of course, some of these questions might bring forth some very silly answers. That’s okay. What seems silly at first might, in fact, turn into a very good idea if you give it some extra thought, time and attention.
Cultivate a Curious Nature
Curiosity will encourage you to ask better and more insightful questions. It will help you to see things in a different light, and may also assist you to dig deeper beneath the surface of your tasks.
Curiosity requires that you at the very least pretend to be somewhat fascinated and interested in the task at hand. Once you open yourself up to this possibility, take time to ask yourself:
What’s interesting about this task?
What haven’t I noticed about this task?
What’s funny about this task? Why?
How could I use these insights to make this task more interesting, stimulating and fun?
Think back to the days when you were a child where everything seemed new, fresh and incredibly fascinating. It is from this perspective that you must pose your questions. It doesn’t even matter if the questions make sense or not. Children often ask the silliest of questions. In this instance, silly questions are good. In fact, the more questions you ask, the more insights you will gain and the more curiosity you will muster. So ask away, ask to your heart’s content. You will never go wrong with a little curiosity by your side.
Reward Yourself for Completing Task
One of the main reasons why you’re probably finding your task boring is that there is just very little motivation behind your actions. One way to find the motivation you need to complete a task is to put a rewards system in place.
Take a little time to clarify what it is you need to complete. If it’s a big task, then break the task down into smaller parts. Once everything is organized, determine how you will go about rewarding yourself for completing the task or certain parts of the task.
When developing a rewards system, you must be cautious not to over-reward yourself too early. You must also be cautious that your rewards don’t create distractions that sidetrack your efforts. Instead, think along the lines of creating some small rewards that will keep your motivation levels high, but won’t delay or prevent you from completing the task at hand.
Visualize Yourself Undertaking Task
At times you might not be seeing the task with enough clarity. In fact, you might have a very limited perspective of what is required to get the task completed successfully. You might think you know what to do, and as a result, you are feeling bored and removed from the activity, however, this might all just be an illusion.
One way to overcome this limited kind of thinking is to visualize yourself undertaking this task from start to finish. However, don’t just passively visualize the task. Actively involve yourself in the task within your imagination, while taking into consideration a variety of ways you could approach the task to make it a little more fun and interesting. Alternatively, visualize the task as finished in your mind, and then reverse engineer the task backward step-by-step until you reach the beginning. This might help you see your task in a slightly different way.
Work with Partner on the Task
Sometimes things are boring because you’re craving the company of others — you’re craving that social connection with another person. If this sounds like you, then ask someone to help you with your task. Together you might find a unique and interesting approach that will help you to get the task done quickly and efficiently. However, be wary not to get caught up in the act of socializing and forget to fulfill your obligations to the task at hand.
Work in Short Bursts
It’s very possible you are feeling bored because you’re thinking about how long this task will inevitably take. In fact, this boredom tends to turn into frustration. You want to speed up the process and complete this task quickly, but it’s physically impossible to do so. In such scenarios, you might benefit from working in short bursts at a time.
Work in short bursts of 15 to 20 minutes on a task, and give it all you possibly can within this time frame. Then rest for 5 to 10 minutes and preoccupy your mind with something else. Then return to the task for another quick burst of focused and concentrated attention. It is however important that during those short bursts you fully knuckle down and really engross yourself within the task. The more engrossed and engaged you are, the faster time will fly and the more you are likely to get done.
Work While Listening to Music
Music has a tendency to liven our spirits and immediately put us into a different frame-of-mind. This is very significant because listening to the right kind of music while you’re working on a task can immediately take you out of a lethargic and bored state-of-mind and put you into a very receptive and productive state that will capture your imagination.
Have a think about the music you love and enjoy, and use it as a tool to help you re-energize yourself while undertaking a boring task. Of course, at times you might need to concentrate while performing a specific task, and music might just get in the way and distract you. In such instances, take a break to listen to your favorite music for a few minutes before returning back to your task. When you come back from your break you should be feeling more inspired and energized. This energy will of course eventually evaporate. When it does, play your favorite song another time to once again capture that vibrant energy. Then rinse and repeat.
This could, in fact, be a perfect way to temporarily relieve your feelings of boredom.
Strategies for Eliminating Boredom
Boredom is a state-of-mind. What this means is that it’s all in your head. And anything that’s in your head you can control, as long as you have the desire to make the necessary changes. In fact, you don’t ever need to spend another moment in a state of boredom. Here are some suggestions to make this a reality:
Brainstorm Some Clever and Creative Ideas
Take some time to brainstorm ideas and things you could potentially do to help you alleviate boredom. Alternatively, brainstorm things you can do that will keep you interested and your mind stimulated throughout the day.
There are so many things you could do with your time. If you really thought about it and considered all the possibilities, you would literally become overwhelmed with all the options you have presented before you. Therefore boredom will never be a choice you make as long as you’re open to new perspectives and possibilities.
Find Time for Contemplation
One way to alleviate boredom is to constantly be thinking about your life and circumstances in new ways. This is important because most times when you’re bored you will have a very limited view of life and your circumstances. In fact, being bored means you’re constantly thinking about the same things, in the same way, and nothing ever seems to change. You must break out of this mentality immediately. Do this by taking time to have a think about your life, your problems, and circumstances. Ask yourself:
What’s good about my life right now?
What’s not good and needs improving?
Where am I currently stagnating?
What problems am I experiencing?
How could I solve these problems?
Putting yourself in a solution-focused frame-of-mind will stimulate your imagination and put you into an active state of awareness that will naturally raise your levels of motivation.
Learn Something New and Different
Step out into the world and do something new, different and challenging. You are bored because your life isn’t challenging enough. You are bored because you are doing the same monotonous things day-after-day without deviating from your course. You are bored because you haven’t learned a new skill for a while. You’re bored because your life is stagnating and nothing ever seems to change.
If nothing ever seems to change, then that’s your fault. You must instigate the changes you would like to make in your life. Do this by learning a new skill and by challenging yourself in some way. Breaking out of your old patterns of behavior is exactly what you need to break free from the cycle of boredom.
Let Go of Lazy Distractions
There’s nothing to do, and because there’s nothing to do you’ve decided to just switch on the television or jump onto the Internet for more mind-numbing activities. The television and Internet can at times help you to alleviate boredom, however, they are only temporary distractions. The very next day you’ll end up in exactly the same bored state and you will once again repeat the same patterns.
What you need are not distractions, but rather a purpose for living. You are bored because you don’t have a purpose for living, you don’t have a vision for your life, and there is no passion supporting your actions. This must change! You must change! Otherwise, boredom will keep you in the same miserable place for years to come.
Let Go of Resistance to Doing Nothing
Sometimes feeling bored will present you with a perfect opportunity to become more mindful and appreciative of the moment. However, you must be open to this possibility and quit resisting the act of doing nothing. Instead, take this time to reflect upon your environment and engross yourself completely into this very moment. Become mindful of yourself, others and your surroundings, and have a think about what you could do right now to make the most of this very moment. If nothing else, use this time to relax, reflect and move forward with a greater sense of purpose.
Help Another Person
Feeling bored means that you are lacking mental stimulation. What you need is something else to preoccupy your time with. One of the best ways to do this is to help another person. Either volunteer your time to a good cause or help one of your friends or colleagues solve a problem they are struggling with. Helping someone else solve a problem may very well provide you with the mental stimulation you need to eliminate your feelings of boredom.
Set Inspiring Goals
It’s impossible to feel bored when you are living with passion and purpose when you are pursuing meaningful and inspiring goals, and when you are striving for something that’s greater than yourself.
Take time to clarify what it is you want to do, be, have and achieve. Write these goals down, assign a time frame to each goal, and draw out a daily and weekly plan of action that will help you to bring these goals to fruition. Then commit yourself fully by focusing all your energies and resources towards attaining these goals.
Tick Items Off Your Bucket List
A bucket list is a list of things that you would like to do over a lifetime. Most Bucket Lists contain 100+ items. However, your bucket list can just begin with a few items that have meaning for you and your life.
To create your Bucket List, have a think about all the things that you have always wanted to do but never quite got the chance. This might even include thinking back to your childhood and taking into consideration all the fun and exciting things you wanted to do, have, be and achieve as a youngster. Write everything down that is meaningful and that will add another important layer to your life experience.
Once your Bucket List has a few items on there, commit yourself to ticking items off this list once a week, or once a month, or as often as you get the chance. It’s especially important to refer to your Bucket List when you’re feeling bored, or if you feel as though your life is somewhat stagnating. It is during these moments when your Bucket List will be of greatest value, as it will help you break free from your stuck and bored state by providing you with new perspectives, experiences, and opportunities.
Keep ticking items off your Bucket List over a lifetime. Also, keep adding items to your Bucket List over time. Hopefully, at the end of your life, you will look back and think about all the good times and incredible experiences you had, and not about the regrets and moments of boredom you experienced.
Take a Nap
Napping when you’re in a state of boredom can help improve your levels of alertness and awareness. The moment you awaken from your slumber you might very well find that you have a renewed perspective on life. You might even find that you have more energy to do the things you were previously putting off.
Teach Someone Something
When bored, get out of your head and spend time teaching someone something you’re passionate about. Teaching someone something new will take you back to a time when you first learned this skill or acquired some valuable knowledge. This will bring back old memories of how things used to be. You will instantly find a renewed energy that will put you into a very receptive and conducive state that will immediately eliminate your boredom.
If you don’t feel comfortable teaching, then simply take some time to approach a stranger and ask them questions about their lives and experiences. Just spend time getting to know them, and allow them the opportunity to also get to know you. It’s such a simple suggestion, but if you make the conversation interesting, it might very well take you to surprising places that will certainly help you relieve your feelings of boredom.
Absorb Yourself in Inspiration
Find inspiration in books and movies. Find inspiration in art, photography, architecture and within your environment. There are so many possibilities out there. However, you must search for them. Don’t just sit on your couch and moan and groan about how boring life is. Take charge of your life and look to search for the inspiration you need to move your life forward with a greater sense of purpose and passion.
Exercise and Meditate
The moment you’re feeling bored, take some time to exercise or meditate. Exercise by jogging, by swimming, by bike riding, or go for a walk in the park. Just the simple act of walking in nature will encourage you to breathe more deeply and fully. Use these moments for inspiration and rejuvenation. Use these moments to clear the fog in your head that is preventing you from living life to the fullest.
Meditation and exercise will tend to clear your mind and re-energize your body. At the very least they will have a tendency to get you out of a lazy and bored state-of-mind.
Draw Some Pictures
A simple, yet very underestimated way to get yourself out of a bored state-of-mind is to draw some pictures. Draw pictures about your feelings, problems, thoughts, goals, ideas, and life. It doesn’t even matter whether or not you can draw. Nobody needs to see these pictures. Draw them as a means of helping yourself find the inspiration you need to move forward in a more positive way out of your bored state.
Change Your Routine or Environment
You are bored because you do the same thing over-and-over again or you spend time in the same place day-after-day. Things have become somewhat very predictable and monotonous. What you need is a change. You need to do something that will allow you to break free from your old patterns and routines. You must, therefore, change what you do, how you do things, and where you do them.
Decide today that you will shake-up your routine and environment in surprising ways. Just do things differently, do things out of order, and do things in places you normally wouldn’t do them. It’s as simple as that. Shaking up your routine and changing your environment could be all you need to break free from the cycle of boredom.
Find a New Hobby
Maybe you always wanted to play a certain kind of sport. Maybe you have always wanted to collect something but never quite got the chance. Or maybe you have always wanted to learn something new like an instrument that you never really had the time for. This is now your opportunity to find a new hobby or an area of interest that you are passionate about and that can help you eliminate your boredom.
Do Something Drastic
Do something radical, exciting, unexpected, unpredictable and drastic. Just completely step out of your comfort zone and push the boundaries of what you previously thought was possible. If you have absolutely no idea what to do, then ask one of your friends for a few suggestions. Maybe you could even do it together, with them coming along for the ride.
Seek Out Inspiring People
Seek out inspiring, interesting, entertaining, passionate and creative people to spend time with. You will never be bored if you are around fascinating people who challenge and inspire you to greater heights. And if your current friends don’t quite fall into this category, then join a meetup group within your community, or join a gym, or volunteer your time to a good cause. There are so many inspirational people you could meet, you just need to go out there and start making meaningful connections.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 6 Tips for Coping with Boredom @ Psychology Today
- 6 Ways the Most Successful People Conquer Boredom at Work @ Fast Company
- 7 Productive Ways to Counter Boredom at Work @ Inc.
- 15 Frugal Ways to Battle Boredom @ Wise Bread
- Coping with Boredom at Work @ Psychology Today
- Cure Boredom with these Seven Scientific Solutions @ Huffington Post
- How to Handle and Relieve Boredom at Work @ Forbes