How Employees Can Turn Boredom Into an Advantage

Topic(s): job performance, motivation, wellness
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: The Benefits of Being Bored at Work
Authors: A. Meister, A. Stavskaya
Reviewed by: Daisy Rowser-Grier

The thought of feeling bored at work could be unsatisfying and discouraging. From an early age, we are introduced to the idea that boredom holds no significance or excitement, and there is often a strong need to run away from it. A recent article in Harvard Business Review (Meister & Stavskaya, 2023) makes the case that boredom could be used to your advantage in the workplace by becoming aware of the type of boredom you may be facing and following healthy steps to get through it.


When facing boredom, some people engage in childlike decision-making and unproductive web browsing. In a world where pleasure can be reached from a click of a button, sitting through boredom can be a tough challenge. However, these short pleasurable moments may cause harm to mental health and lifestyle over time. Therefore, the authors say to be careful before engaging with your phone. Instead of escaping boredom, the authors invite readers to utilize the stage of boredom to their benefit.

According to the authors, the first step to productively managing boredom is to become aware of it and understand that you’re bored. Awareness of boredom can help employees learn to use this time in a more intentional way. Second, seek to understand what type of boredom you are feeling, which could help influence how you respond to it. On this note, the authors discuss five types of boredom:

  • Indifferent boredom: This provides a sense of ease and space from the rest of the world, influencing us to regain our strength and energy during a busy workday.
  • Calibrating boredom: This is quite common and occurs when our minds wander and do not want to maintain focus on one activity.
  • Searching boredom: This triggers inspiration, curiosity, and development. It may influence people to explore and find new activities.  
  • Reactive boredom: This makes us desperately want to escape and seek alternatives to the mundane tasks we must complete every day. It may make us anxious or even angry. 
  • Apathetic boredom: This stems from lack of care and possibly occurs due to long-term stress, mental illness, or depressive states.

According to the authors, the third step is to decide on what to do with your boredom. Finally, the fourth step is to be fully conscious of what you intend to do with boredom. Being conscious helps creates a meaningful direction that could eventually lead to positive wellness-related outcomes.


The authors believe that people could benefit from boredom in the workplace. Instead of searching for short-term gratification when feeling bored, people can use their boredom as a valuable opportunity to evaluate themselves. Implementing the four steps and identifying the type of boredom they are experiencing may lead employees to self-growth and refinement.


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