Are you finding yourself bored lately?
If so, consider the following: is it that you have nothing to do? Or is it that the things you have to do aren’t providing any kind of spark for you?
These are two different problems.
On the one hand, life is full of things that we can and should be doing. Not all of those things are pleasant or enjoyable, but they need doing nonetheless.
On the other, we are often bored when we are mired in the tedious work of life. Laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, and doing the work can all be quite boring. And understandably so! It’s kind of hard to spark interest in scrubbing the kitchen sink.
We accept that the work can be boring. After all, it’s work. It’s not always fun or interesting, and that’s okay.
But what about when all of the responsibilities are done, and you still find yourself bored? The root of that boredom is often in how you’re choosing your actions.
Let’s look at some steps you can take to overcome boredom. Consider them ‘cures’ for boredom if you will.
1. Stop procrastinating.
There are so many tedious, unenjoyable things that we need to do to get through our daily life. Not everything can be fun or pleasant. That’s just how it is.
But if you neglect these responsibilities, their presence in the back of your mind can create a cloud of anxiety and woe that will hang over you. It’s hard to enjoy what you’re doing and have a good time when you know you have a sink full of dishes waiting for you when you get home.
It’s not always about chores, though. Sometimes the things that we love doing involve particular elements that are tedious to get through.
Maybe you love your job overall, but you don’t so much care for all of the scheduling and management that needs to be done to do your job effectively. Or maybe you have a hobby that requires a lot of work or planning before you can actually enjoy doing it.
Whatever it is, don’t procrastinate. Do the work and get it out of your way. Then you’ll be able to enjoy yourself doing whatever it is that comes after the work.
One helpful way to stay on top of this is to practice the “Five Minute Rule.” If something takes less than five minutes to do, do it now and get it over with. You’ll be surprised at how much mental energy you can free by using this one simple rule.
2. Chase your spark.
Sometimes boredom is rooted in pursuing the wrong things. Maybe there is something you are passionate about that sparks your interest and motivation. Are you doing enough of that?
It isn’t easy when you have life’s responsibilities pushing their way in, but you have to create time for the things that spark interest and joy within you.
“Good enough” isn’t always good enough. It doesn’t fill your cup nearly as well as doing the things that truly ignite that spark inside you. And once you’ve filled your cup, it makes doing everything else a lot easier.
Everyone needs something to spark that light within them. Once you find it, do more of that thing.
3. Think less, do more.
Boredom may be rooted in a lack of action. People like to feel as though they are making progress toward something. That can be a problem if you are an overthinker, prone to anxiety, or are just afraid of what might come in the future.
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of planning. It’s good to make informed choices, even if they are a little impulsive from time to time.
What isn’t good is getting wrapped up in “analysis paralysis,” where you keep grabbing for more information and procrastinating under the guise of research and preparation.
The issue with too much research is that it rarely reflects the actual problems you will experience when you’re doing the thing. You have to have faith in your ability to problem-solve or find someone with the answers.
4. Learn how to set goals.
A lack of direction may be at the root of your boredom. You may be bored because you don’t feel like you’re advancing or accomplishing anything.
And you may very well not be advancing or accomplishing anything because you don’t know what you want to accomplish.
The solution to that problem is goal-setting.
There are lots of different strategies for goal-setting. The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) method of goal-setting is quite popular because it is effective.
Your goal should be Specific, e.g., “I want to learn how to cook a good steak.”
Your goal should be Measurable, e.g., “I have successfully cooked a good steak.”
Your goal should be Attainable, e.g., “I can learn how to cook a good steak.”
Your goal should be Relevant, e.g., “Everyone needs to eat. And I do love steak!”
Your goal should be Time-Bound, e.g., “I will give myself 30 days to learn and practice.”
And at the end of that 30 days, you will know if you can cook a good steak or if you’ll need more practice.
SMART goal-setting can be applied to any area of life, from improving your career to cooking a steak.
5. Devote time to learning something new.
When we’re bored, we are often looking for some kind of stimulation to help get our mind engaged and involved again.
A great way to do that is to learn something new. And with your access to the internet, there are so many ways to go about doing that!
Pick a random podcast, website, or ebook and start learning. You may also want to do some more hands-on learning by taking a class or course on one of the many learning websites. Khan Academy has a lot of free courses available. Or look for professors who post their lectures on YouTube.
When you are learning something new, you have to give all of your attention to it. This prevents your mind from wandering, which is one of the key characteristics of boredom. If you are genuinely engaged in whatever it is you are learning, you will be able to keep boredom at bay.
Taking an offline course may be of greater benefit because you also can socialize with other people, which is a great segue into…
6. Do some socializing.
People are social creatures by nature. We may fall into a rut of boredom and loneliness when we are not fulfilling our social needs.
Sometimes, we may mistake our loneliness for boredom. It’s not necessarily the enjoyment of a particular activity that is filling your cup. Going out to eat may be nice when you’re alone, but it’s genuinely much more fun and refreshing when you’re doing it with people you enjoy being around.
Try getting in touch with friends or family that you like spending time with. It may also help get out and try some new activities or do some volunteer work to meet some new people.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people with a shared interest because you ought to pick a cause that relates to something you are interested in or passionate about. That provides a convenient icebreaker and conversation starter.
As with learning, socializing tends to occupy your mind for the most part because you have to concentrate on what the other people are saying or focus on doing an activity together.
7. Reset with a relaxing activity.
Life is busy. There is always something to do, some need to address, some problem to solve. That requires so much mental and emotional energy to keep up with.
The root of your boredom may not be that you aren’t doing enough; it may be that you’re doing too much!
You can easily drain yourself dry on activities, responsibilities, and keeping up with a busy schedule if you don’t allow yourself adequate time for rest.
When your mind and body are constantly active, it can make everything seem less enjoyable, to the point where you’re just bored all the time, regardless of what you are doing.
Take a look at your schedule and life. Do you have rest and relaxation planned into your schedule? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking any time off at all?
“But I don’t have time for that!”
Simply put, when you live a busy life, you have to create time for rest, relaxation, and self-care. Yes, it may seem silly to schedule a two-hour block of doing nothing but lounging on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a movie, but it’s necessary. You’re a human being, not a machine. Sometimes you need downtime and maintenance.
Well, that common analogy isn’t even a good one. Even machines need downtime and maintenance to ensure they stay in good working order. Be you machine, human, or some kind of machine-human hybrid; you need downtime and maintenance!
Don’t run yourself dry by trying to fill every minute of every day. Sometimes it’s beneficial to sit quietly with your thoughts, meditate, journal, or just read a book or watch a movie.
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