Busy But Bored

“At least it’s not boring.” How many times have you heard that on a particularly busy day? It seems a common notion that just because you are busy you must not be bored. As if the two conditions were somehow mutually exclusive. However, if the tasks that are keeping you at 100% are the same tasks as yesterday and the day before… and the week before then there is little reason for your mind to exercise or engage in any creative thinking. You’re bored. 

Unfortunately, even if the specific details of the tasks differ from day to day when the undertaking of those tasks does not result in some sort of measurable progress you are destined to remain bored. Worse still if your efforts result in a loss of ground in whatever current battle you are waging. Sisyphus’ punishment wasn’t the boulder it was the futility of his exertion. That futility is a path to boredom and frustration.

Sisyphus’ punishment wasn’t the boulder...

The danger, of course, of boredom is carelessness. And in the cases where you are working at a feverish pace inattention to detail could have serious consequences. It’s even more important in these times when you are hectic but lacking intellectual challenge to exercise mindful attention to detail.

What can you do about it? 

  • Segment - Break the work into smaller pieces with a clearly defined goal line. Maybe today you will only move the ball five yards instead of scoring a touchdown but that’s five less yards you will have to gain tomorrow.
  • Prioritize - Analyze the tasks to be done and determine which are the most important. The 80/20 rule applies here. Identifying the most important items and attacking those first can have a cascading effect of solving or nullifying many of the lower priorities.
  • Delegate - Once you have prioritized you can focus on the most important responsibilities and delegate the more mundane chores down to a lower level. Obviously, though, if you are the lower level  this is not among your options.
  • Move On - If your efforts are truly futile then moving the ball 5 yards does not matter if it just gets reset tomorrow. In this case the only thing to do is take your ball and go home… or at least go somewhere you can challenge yourself and meaningfully participate.