Boredom at work isn’t just wasteful, it’s stressful.
As a manager, or a leader developing managers, it’s important to understand boredom and how it affects you and your employees.
Boredom can unhinge even high-performing professionals. And it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Research suggests that many areas of a person’s life can be seriously impacted by feelings of boredom. In studies using a boredom-process scale, those who rated low were better performers in areas such as education, career and autonomy.
There are actually three types of boredom. The first type shows up when we are prevented from engaging in wanted activity. The second type occurs when we are forced to engage in unwanted activity; and the third type is when, for no apparent reason, we are unable to feel engaged for any length of time in any particular activity.
A 1989 study indicated that an impression of boredom may be influenced by an individual’s degree of attention. A high acoustic level of distraction from the environment correlates with higher reports of boredom.
One study suggests that boredom has an evolutionary basis that encourages humans to seek out new challenges, which may, ultimately, influence human learning and ingenuity. Which got me to thinking: maybe boredom isn’t all bad. Perhaps many of today’s innovations may stem from people who seek out new challenges.
Are Some People Prone to Boredom?
Is there such a thing as boredom proneness? Apparently so, and it is defined as a tendency to experience boredom of all types – typically assessed by something called the Boredom Proneness Scale.
Boredom proneness is clearly associated with attention problems. It has been shown to be linked to symptoms of depression.
Although boredom is often viewed as a trivial and mild irritant, proneness to boredom is linked to a diverse range of psychological, physical, educational, and social problems.