Think about your first few days or weeks at a new job. You’re surrounded by challenges at virtually every turn: there are new internal systems to learn, new people to interact with, and new tasks to conquer. Everything seems like a novelty, and the work is initially enjoyable.
Then, time starts passing. You find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again. You find ways to cut corners, your productivity starts to slide, and eventually, you find yourself in a rut. There are only a few times that you really find yourself coming alive – when a new project gets handed down that you actually enjoy, or when a crisis hits and necessity dictates that you must come alive or perish. Generally, though, 80% of your job is made up of mundane tasks that you do over and over again, that have become boring from over-use.
How do you recapture that initial feeling of excitement? It’s the same kind of feeling many people used to have as children on the first day of school: the feeling of possibilities, of a fresh start, of new challenges to tackle. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find again unless you’re staring down the barrel of a catastrophe.
Rather than succumbing to boredom, top-notch IT people find a way to manufacture their own excitement. The field is full of bright, intelligent people – it is inevitable that they are going to face bouts of boredom. But the difference between an exceptional IT professional and an average one is in their ability to make their careers work for them.
Instead of focusing on how boring your job is and how under-challenged you are at work, why not look at one of the mundane tasks you’re constantly performing and ask yourself: is it possible that I could do this a better way? If you’re troubleshooting a function for your logistics department in your SAP system, fixing a problem that you’ve encountered a dozen times before, are you able to find a way to fix it more efficiently? Is there a way for you to customize the function or process so that the problem doesn’t happen again?
If you are not sincerely motivated, you may be facing other issues entirely. But if you conduct a self-evaluation and find that your primary problem is that you are not challenged enough, then approaching your job with fresh eyes is one solution that might work. Too often, we as employees become complacent, figuring that our job functions are already operating at optimum levels, and even if they aren’t, what concern is that of ours? But, if you are able to find a better way to do something, should you? What kinds of new and exciting challenges might you face if you simply decided to perfect your current functions and processes?
Looking at your work in this manner relieves boredom on a couple of levels. First of all, it forces you to exercise your creative muscles. Mundane tasks often feel stifling, but doing them in a creative way can relieve that feeling. Second of all, the challenge puts an intelligent mind to work rather than lulling it into a dull stupor.
If you are still having trouble spicing up your work life, you might also want to engage your fellow co-workers by bringing in the friendly spirit of competition. Who can complete their boring day-to-day tasks faster? Who can develop a useful application using ABAP for your company’s accounting team to help it run more efficiently? Adding this component not only helps you relieve boredom and keep you going between crises and special projects, but it boosts your department’s productivity as a whole, allowing everyone in the company to benefit.
*Image courtesy of Jason Ilagan via Creative Commons