What to do when you're bored at work

Tackling these tasks will help you stay engaged and make you more productive.

What to do when you're bored at work

Prevent boredom from ruining your job.

Not sure what to do when you're bored at work? You’re far from alone. According to a recent survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam, professionals admit they're bored on the job an average of 10.5 hours per week. (That's more than a full day a week!) Moreover, two in five employees (40%) said it's likely they'd quit their job if they felt bored at work.

But workplace boredom isn’t always a sign that your brain is rotting, says Nir Eyal, time-management expert and author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. “It’s totally natural to feel bored at times,” Eyal says.

What really matters is how you choose to spend your downtime—you can waste it away scrolling through Instagram, daydreaming, or playing games on your smartphone, or you can use it to make yourself a better worker.

If you’re struggling with what to do when you’re bored at work, tackling these tasks will help you stay engaged and make you more productive.

Tidy up your workstation

Having an organized desk can increase your efficiency, says Julie Morgenstern, productivity consultant and author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck. And, if your workspace is a total mess, you’re probably wasting a lot of time searching through clutter to find things when you need them. (“Where in the world is that expense report?!”)

Another reason to tidy up: People with unorganized workspaces are viewed by their bosses and colleagues as being more neurotic and less agreeable than employees with neater desks, a recent study by the University of Michigan found.

Facing a mound of paperwork on your desk? Try this approach: Make a “toss” pile, a “store” pile, and a currently active “to-do” pile. That take-out menu from the bankrupt sandwich shop across the street? Throw it out. The budget report from 2009? Pop it into your filing cabinet. A printout of the presentation you’re giving on Friday? Keep it on hand.

Take stock of your recent accomplishments

Keeping track of your career achievements is a smart move, says Gretchen Pisano, CEO and co-founder of leadership and executive coaching firm pLink Leadership. “If you do that, it makes it a lot easier when you go to update your resume,” Pisano says. It also just feels good to see how your hard work is paying off.

Kim Isaacs, Monster’s resume expert, says some the most compelling career wins are the accomplishments that show you achieved measurable results, (e.g., “raised $1 million in donations over the past year, the largest ever received by the institute in a one-year period”).

Dust off your resume

Still using your CV from four years ago? Use some of your free time at work to update your resume. After all, you never know when the next awesome job opportunity will arise. Having your resume ready to go is a must.

Reconnect with professionals in your sphere

Networking may not be your idea of a good time, but it’s a crucial step if you want to excel in your career. Have 30 minutes to kill? “Send three notes of appreciation to people who have been good to you in the past or have been instrumental in your professional journey,” Pisano recommends. Express gratitude. “Saying, ‘I greatly appreciate the insights you’ve provided to me over the years,’ goes a long way,” Pisano says.

Work on your professional development

Searching for opportunities to further your professional development is a lot more productive than wasting time looking at your Facebook feed. Research professional seminars, conferences, or industry networking events that you can attend. If your department is strapped for cash, look into free webinars on hot-button topics in your field.

Lend your co-worker a hand

Helping out a peer does wonders for building goodwill, while also improving your well-being and “dispelling that feeling of boredom,” says Pisano. It’s also key to establishing a reputation for yourself as a team player, which is no small thing—in fact, roughly 79% of hiring managers seek job candidates who demonstrate strong teamwork skills, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2019 survey.

Tame your inbox

Email can make workplace communication faster and more efficient, but it can also be overwhelming. On average, office workers spend over three hours day checking work emails, according to Adobe’s 2019 Email Usage Study. That echoes a McKinsey survey that found the average worker spends an estimated 28% of the workweek managing email.

To make your inbox more manageable, use some of your free time to cut down on the number of emails that you’re receiving. You can do this by unsubscribing from newsletters, advertisements, and other unwanted emails. Pro tip: You can automatically unsubscribe from dozens of subscription e-mails at once by using Unroll.Me.

Look for a less boring job

Now that you know what to do when you're bored at work, you can take some steps to conquer the humdrum. However, “if you’re bored all the time at work, it may be your mind’s job of telling you that you need a different environment,” Pisano says. It may be time to find a job that's more stimulating.

Need some help with that? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox so you can apply as soon the right job catches your eye. Don't let a boring job cause your talents to go to waste. Get started on a job search today.