Many of us are familiar with the feeling of boredom that comes with doing a repetitive and unexciting task. Some companies even allow their employees to have fun and not get bored, because the more fun they have at work, the more satisfied, engaged and committed they are.
But while enjoying work can be good for companies and employees alike, is it really that bad to feel bored?
Boredom is one of the most common emotions many of us experience, but it is not well understood scientifically. We often confuse feelings of boredom with other emotions such as anger and frustration. Although feelings of boredom can turn into feelings of frustration, boredom is a separate emotion.
Researchers have tried to deepen the understanding of boredom and its impact on creativity. For the exercise, they randomly assigned 101 participants to two groups: the first did a boring task of sorting green and red beans by color for 30 minutes with one hand, and the second did a creative task of working on an art project using paper, beans and glue.
The participants were then asked to take part in an idea generation task, after which the creativity of their ideas was assessed by two independent experts. The experts found that bored participants came up with more creative ideas than those who were on a creative task. In this way, boredom helped boost individual performance.
Significantly, boredom significantly increased creativity only in individuals with specific personality traits, including intellectual curiosity, high levels of cognitive drive, openness to new experiences, and propensity to learn.
In other words, such an unpleasant emotion as boredom can actually push people towards change and innovative ideas. This fact is worth taking into account for managers and business leaders: knowing how to use the desire of employees for diversity and novelty can be beneficial for the enterprise.
So, first of all, boredom is not necessarily a bad thing. You can take advantage of boredom.
Second, a lot depends on the individual. Everyone can get bored at work, but not everyone will be affected the same way. You need to know yourself or your employees well in order to capitalize on the feeling of boredom or deal with it in a timely manner.
Finally, pay attention to how the workflow flows – you will be able to optimize it by noticing in time at what moments a feeling of boredom arises.
Fun and boredom, no matter how illogical it may sound, do not contradict each other. Both of these emotions can motivate you to be more productive – it’s just a matter of figuring out which incentives are right for you.