Boreout – when Boredom leads to Illness

Everyone knows the concept of “burnout” – the illness of top bosses and the stars. For many workers, it’s quite the opposite: too little to do or the feeling of […]

Everyone knows the concept of “burnout” – the illness of top bosses and the stars. For many workers, it’s quite the opposite: too little to do or the feeling of being unchallenged – Boreout! Most individuals don’t even recognize that they have such a syndrome as they develop a behavioural strategy of believing they always have tasks to complete, without actually taking on any more work.

Sort the e-mails, move the pile of invoices from left to right, poke through documents without any end target – fake work can be very difficult. So difficult, that you feel exhausted. In the worst case scenario, it can lead to boreout: the feeling of being unchallenged. A lack of mental demand quickly leads to boredom and a lack of desire. Why would anyone continue to work if boredom will only increase, or when they don’t know what they should do? Those affected feel unhappy because they suffer with the belief that they realistically could be doing much more, but have no opportunity to do so. They suffer as they receive no recognition from their colleagues and they find no reason to take pride in themselves.

Symptoms of boreout:

  • Private surfing on the internet: as soon as colleagues or a manager walks by, the browser miraculously disappears and normal work is simulated.
  • Faking longer working times: going as early as possible to the desk and leaving as late as possible.
  • Inconsistent working habits: Small tasks are split up over more periods of time and are constantly interrupted or moved.
  • Leftover work is taken home but not worked on.
  • Continually emphasizing to colleagues, supervisors and friends as to how busy and overburdened you are.
  • Feeling unsatisfied with the working situation and constantly feeling unchallenged and bored.

The problem is that you don’t trust yourself to mention the lack of challenging tasks or boredom for the fear of compromising your job. The aforementioned employees aren’t necessarily lazy. They want to work but they don’t necessarily receive the correct workload that they deserve.
Thankfully, there are measures to help avoid boreout:

  • Preventative measures: look for work that prepares you for joy. Work that doesn’t make you say “I have to go there,” rather “I want to go there.”
  • Find a healthy balance: you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed (burnout) or under used (boreout). Look for tasks that will grow, and tasks that will help you grow.
  • Private: As soon as you realize that you have time for private browsing at work, you need to devote more time to challenging tasks. You should do one thing when at work: work!
  • Identity: think to yourself, why do you work in this company? If you find little or no arguments, then you have an indication that you’re probably suffering from boreout.

And most important of all… Don’t fall asleep on your desk.