What to Do If Work Feels MonotonousJul 25, 2022
Work monotony can affect your mental health, so it is important to try to shift your mindset if your job becomes humdrum. In this post, we explore what to do if work feels monotonous, ways to combat it, and more.
Monotony at work is a feeling of boredom: clocking in to perform the same mundane daily tasks with little to no possibility of excitement or anything of interest occurring.
Studies show monotonous work can negatively impact mental health, cause stress, lead to burnout, and create a higher risk for drug addiction, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling, according to Harvard Business Review.
Blase’ feelings at work can also cause employees to leave their positions. Korn Ferry’s Breaking Boredom survey reported that 33% of those who wanted to quit their jobs cited boredom as the main reason.
Work monotony can be caused by a variety of issues. Numerous issues cause work monotony. SoulWork & Six Figures founder and job search advisor Stephanie Heath said clients who deal with work monotony are no longer fulfilled with work or have been with a company for a long time.
“Typically their character is someone that prioritizes safety versus risk and change,” Heath said. “But now they feel like the benefits aren't really outweighing the negatives anymore.”
Career coach Mandy Tang said her clients absorbed in monotony feel disconnected at work and lack purpose.
“If you hear someone say, ‘My job is the same every day, there's no point,’ I think the underlying feeling might be that what they are doing doesn't matter,” Tang said. “And that there is no connection to why they are there.
“I think the monotony happens when there is a disconnect between the work and how you define a connection to the work, and you feel like it's just the same thing every day.”
I chatted with Heath and Tang to learn more about what to do if work feels monotonous, tips and tricks to help make your job more enjoyable, and more.
Identify the Root Cause of the Monotony
Start by identifying the cause of your boredom to help combat work monotony.
“Step one is to understand what needs are not being met,” Tang said. “If you are bored at work, it is probably something within you that can be fixed. Let's reevaluate. What is making you bored? And what could be exciting?”
Next, manage the expectations of your job.
“I think a mistake we all make is we expect the job to be everything and do everything for us,” Tang said. “Like the job has to be simultaneously exciting and fulfilling and pay well and be challenging and provide a family away from home.
“It is a lot to expect of a job. So often when I'm working with clients, I will say things like, ‘What are you looking to get out of this job?’ Really clarify for yourself, are you looking to get friends? Are you looking to get validation? Are you looking to get money?”
Prioritizing what you want out of your job can help, Tang said. She also suggested keeping a journal of one good thing that happened at work every day to assist in changing your mindset.
Think About Your Goals and Advocate for Yourself
Also, consider writing your goals to break the cycle of monotony.
“Think about things in three-month chunks,” Tang said. “Think about your three-month goal, six-month goal, 12-month goal, and then break it apart. If your 12-month goal is to learn a new skill at work or get a raise, break that into smaller goals.
“It can help to say, ‘If my goal in 12 months is to achieve this big thing, then in the next three months, I have to do these little parts that will add up to it.’ Always connect the bigger picture to the work you are doing…that will help you stay motivated.”
Be vocal about your goals and advocate for yourself once you have pinpointed what you want to achieve.
“A lot of high achieving women don't advocate for themselves enough or vocalize enough, and they just assume ‘if I just work really, really hard and put my head down, people will notice,’” Tang said.
“Speak up in meetings with your manager, with your team and say, ‘Hey, I'd love to get involved with X, Y, Z,’ or ‘one of my goals is to practice my public speaking so I'd love to take that project on.’ Be more vocal about what your goals are and don’t expect people to be like, ‘Oh, that person's so hardworking. Let's reward them.’”
Networking can also be a good way to advocate for yourself, help achieve your goals and shift monotony.
Consider scheduling coffee chats with people in your industry/company if networking events feel mundane, Tang said. It could lead to more exciting opportunities within your role, or in a new position.
“It’s not just get out there, put yourself out there and network, because sometimes people are introverted,” Tang said. “It just doesn't work. Find the way that networking feels good to you.”
Prioritize Your Well-Being
Heath suggested focusing on your personal life more to help make work less monotonous.
“Make your personal life a little bit more full, so that it overshadows what is happening at work,” Heath said. “Potentially in the next five or six months, we will see companies start to let go of some of their employees. So if you are comfortably employed right now, it may just make sense for you to not have work on such a high shelf in your life. “
Also, consider trying creative ways to break up the day, like taking breaks, going for short walks, and redecorating your workspace.
When to Contact Managers About Work Monotony
It is OK to talk to managers about work monotony, but tread lightly and use a proper approach.
“Your relationship with your manager is a bit of a performance, so if you are feeling really unmotivated, it is probably not best to be like, ‘Hey boss, I'm feeling unmotivated,’” Tang said. “You still have to perform.”
Instead, Tang suggested finding something that excites you or something to look forward to at work. You could bring up a new initiative you want to work on rather than your boredom.
“I think the antidote to boredom is momentum,” Tang said. “Maybe it is a bigger project or an opportunity to work with a team you haven't worked with before.”
Determine how you can adjust your role or creatively add to it if you do set up a meeting with a manager, Heath said.
“Maybe brainstorm that on your own and then sit with your manager and say, ‘I'd like to get creative with my role and potentially adjust a bit. Can we do that together?’”
Also, don’t be afraid to make social suggestions for your team that could help break up the monotony for you or co-workers, like a summer series, Heath said.
Before struggles with work monotony force you to leave your job, consider taking steps to shift your mentality. Try to find the root of your boredom, write your goals, network with people at your company and beyond to find more interesting opportunities, and discover creative ways to break up your day.
What to do if work feels monotonous
- Identify the root cause of the monotony.
- Manage your expectations of work.
- Think about your goals and advocate for yourself.
- Find something that excites you, something to look forward to at work.
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