The Top 3 Strategies for Breaking Out of Boredom and Burnout

July is known for many things.

The Dog Days of Summer and BBQs in the backyard.

Concerts in the park, boat excursions, and family vacations.

Independence Day, Canada Day, and the Islamic New Year.

Did you know that July is also anti-boredom month? In a time when the Great Resignation is reaching the top of the meeting’s agenda and the pandemic has turned every day into a scene from Groundhog’s Day, boredom and burnout are ever-present in the workplace. And it’s important that leaders pay attention as much to themselves as they are to their teams moving in this direction.

Remember, leaders choose the weather. If we are bored and burnt out, it is likely our teams are as well. So, my challenge for you the rest of this month and beyond is to re-energize yourself and your team with three helpful strategies.

Strategy #1: Disrupt your routine.

First, disrupt your routine. Don’t get me wrong. Routine can be a wonderful thing. Having a routine helps us and our direct reports know what to expect. We use routine to build the habits we need to effectively achieve our goals. And, in a time that continues to be uncertain, routines impart a sense of control.

However, if we don’t shake things up every now and again, doing the same thing over and over and over can lead to boredom. Time disappears – we cannot remember what we did the day before. It’s all the same. Get up. Eat breakfast. Open the laptop. Work. Go to bed. Get up. Eat breakfast. Open the laptop – well, you get the idea. How many of us have felt as though all the days have merged in the last couple of years? I know I have. When we live out each day with the same activities, it makes sense that we would get bored, feel sluggish, and grow complacent in our jobs.

You want your energy back? You want to feel that fire for your career that you once had? Disrupt your routine by taking that much needed vacation you’ve been thinking about, plan a special event, mix up the order of the way you do things, try a different restaurant, instead of saying “yes” to one more thing, delegate the assignment to Joe or Jane, who have been eager to contribute more. There are hundreds of actions you can take throughout the day to change – strike that – disrupt your routine. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. Even swapping out your coffee for tea can bring a sense of adventure.

What are some ways you will disrupt your routine this week? As you do, notice how it makes you feel and then share your experience with us. We would love to hear how you are rocking the boredom boat.

Strategy #2: Learn something new.

When the pandemic first began, my business, like many, was quiet. Really quiet – and really boring. What did I do to combat the boredom? I learned something new. Honestly, it was the perfect time for it.

Realizing the need to add a virtual option for the Leadership Evolution Program (we had already been doing one-on-one coaching via Zoom a lot before the pandemic, but not for our leadership programs), I got to work learning how best to facilitate these programs online and took six classes, and you know what? This learning was a success in myriad ways, from stepping out of boredom to strengthening my skills to adding a much-needed service for my clients. In fact, as early as the very first class, I found myself happier and feeling more alive because I was reinvesting in myself.

When we choose to learn, we develop new skills, invite alternative perspectives, and expand our network as we meet new people along the way.

Don’t be afraid to become a beginner again. When we welcome new challenges, we may be tested, we may feel uncomfortable, but we also get a firsthand look at what we are capable of. We experience growth, sparks of creativity, and re-engagement.

Just as this is important understanding for you as a leader, remember this directly applies to your team as well. In fact, research shows that “80% of people agreed learning a new skill would make them more engaged, yet only 56% are learning new skills.”

If you are sensing and hearing of boredom and burnout, join in a quest for everyone to learn something new and share their experiences at the next team meeting. You may be surprised to see how this infuses the very energy you and your team have been craving. And, if you need some fresh and fun ideas for team development programs, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!

Strategy #3: Always have something to look forward to.

Setting a goal or having a plan can be the very thing you and your team need to step out of the grasp of boredom and burnout. When we have a plan, and within that plan have something we are really looking forward to, we have something to celebrate when we achieve it.

There is direction and we really get to see our ability to make a different choice – a better choice – for ourselves. There is purpose in our actions, and we don’t have time to sit around stagnant and exhausted. This awareness motivates us to keep moving forward. And as we continue to progress, we leave boredom and burnout in the dust. Goals, plans, something to look forward to engages us, plain and simple.

Need more convincing? Consider your last great vacation you took. Remember when you made the decision to go. What did you do then? Of course, you saved and planned, but you also looked forward and worked toward. You likely found that boost of energy when you remembered that what you were doing in that moment would get you closer to that great vacation, even if it was simply working another day. One step closer.

So, always, always have something to look forward to.

What am I looking forward to now? Hearing from you and how you are celebrating anti-boredom month. What do you do to get out of the rut, or make sure you never get in it?

If you find that you or your team need help re-engaging and moving from boredom and burnout to energy and engagement, reach out. We help leaders of Fortune 500 companies and national organizations better understand the actions they can take that work best for themselves, their teams, and their organizations. Contact us to learn more about our executive coaching opportunities and Leadership Evolution Program at [email protected]. We will talk soon.