How IT Managers Can Use Boredom To Accomplish More

You won't get a lot of work done at work if you are bored
You won’t get a lot of work done at work if you are bored
Image Credit: Steve Koukoulas

I’ve got a question for you: when you are at work, do you use your IT manager skills to be fully engaged all day? Has your IT manager training shown you how to always be thinking of new ways that your team can accomplish more? When you are not working on IT team building , do you spend your alone time coming up with new ways to tackle the really hard problems. Or do you find yourself, at times, being bored? Watching as your attention drifts from work related things to just about anything else because you just can’t seem to stay focused on what’s going on work? Perhaps we should take a look at why you are feeling this way and what you can do to do a better job of keeping your focus on the work at hand.

There Is Not Enough Work For You To Be Doing

Sometimes we need to sit back and give some thought to the question of just exactly what causes us to become bored. One of the biggest culprits is for us to not have enough work to do. Generally speaking, this does not happen all at once. Instead, we tend to wrap up projects that we are working on and at the time it turns out that there are no new projects sitting around to replace them. This becomes a problem quickly because our lack of activity means that we may now start to become bored.

I must confess that this has happened to me before. I found that I could manage my IT team on autopilot and there really were no new projects that were requiring me to spend a lot of time thinking about them. You can pretty much guess what started to happen next: I spend a lot of time surfing the internet. This might seem like a fantastic job to you – accomplish what is required while not having to work very hard; however, after a while I started to feel like I was cheating the company.

So what should you do if you find yourself in the position that I was in? The answer is to tell your boss. Let them know that you’ve wrapped a bunch of stuff up and that you now find yourself with free time. If your boss does not have work for you to do, then ask if there might be work that is outside of your immediate department that you could help out with. The one thing that you don’t want to have happen is for you to sit back and to turn into an underachiever. That’s what the company comes looking for at layoff time.

What You Want Is Bigger Than What You Can Get

A lot of IT managers are fully caught up in their jobs. They have high expectations for what their jobs are going to deliver to them each and every day. They want to be both fulfilled and stimulated by their jobs every time they go into the office. What we need to realize is that we may be asking just a bit too much from our jobs.

We look to our jobs to fulfill a wide set of our personal needs. Our jobs provide us with a paycheck, give us a circle of friends and colleagues, allow us to use our skills to be successful, etc. What a lot of us forget is that our job can’t possibly be able to do all of these things every day. In fact, there may be some days that it’s not able to do it at all. If we find ourselves becoming bored, it’s probably not because we don’t have choices about what we should be working on. Instead, it’s probably because none of the choices that we have is appealing to us right now.

When we are faced with a set of activities that just simply don’t appeal to us for whatever reason, all too often we end just doing nothing. What we really want is to be highly stimulated and at times our jobs just are not going to be able to provide us with the stimulation that we’re looking for. When this happens, we may find ourselves becoming bored. When this happens, you need to realize it and not be trapped by it. Instead, you need to use your brain to come up with the ideas that will transform your IT manager jobs. Use this time to identify how your team can become more productive, what new things your team could be doing, or how you can make your boss be more successful. This will be a good use of your boredom time.

What All Of This Means For You

We can’t always be “on” at work. What this means is that we will experience times where our energy levels drop down. If we find ourselves in one of these zones and we are feeling challenged, then there is a good chance that we also might find ourselves becoming bored. If this happens, we’ll just wile the time away. When this happens, we need to take steps to stop it.

In order to successfully stop boredom, we first need to understand where it comes from. One place is when we find ourselves not being fully utilized. Projects that we were involved in may have wrapped up and there are no new ones to take their place. If this happens to you, after a while you may feel like you are short changing your company and being paid for work that you are not doing. If this happens to you, you need to tell your boss that you have free time and that you’d like some more work. Another source of boredom may be when we set our expectations for our job just a bit too high. We want our job to give us a lot of different things like a paycheck, friends and satisfaction. It can’t do this every day. We may become bored when it’s not delivering. We can use our slow time to come up with better ways to execute our job and manage our team.

We’re going to have to face up to the fact that boredom is never going to go away. No matter what steps we take, there will always be those days where all of a sudden we realize that we are a bit bored. What we need to do when this happens is to take a step back, understand why it’s happening, and then make changes to turn our boredom into productive work time.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: When you ask your boss for more work, do you think that you should tell him or her that you are bored?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The job of being an IT manager is a tough job indeed. We spend our weeks using out IT manager skills to manage our team, planning for the future, and attempting to put out fires when they show up. All of this can easily become a bit overwhelming if we are not careful. What most of us would like would be some way that we could come up with a way to start our weeks out on the right foot. So that we were in charge and not the events that make up our lives. Well, it turns out that we can if we take time on Sunday to do five very important things.