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Is it Burnout or Boredom?

It's easy to misdiagnose your malaise. And boredom is easier to fix.

I’ve recently heard some interesting debate relevant to the Great Resignation we are experiencing. Many folks fleeing their jobs are citing burnout as a primary cause. I can relate.

Many times in my career I have felt burned out. For me it feels like:

1. I just can’t take another “problem”

2. Every email is annoying

3. My team has an “agenda”

4. I’m tired, can’t focus on tasks

5. Nothing seems worth my time

The journal of the world psychiatric association defines Burnout as: “A psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are an overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. “

Being burned out can have severe negative personal and organizational/team implications. Things can get toxic quickly.

But I ask to you consider, could it be boredom?

According to a study published by Udemy, 43% of workers report feeling bored at work. The research found that more women than men report workplace boredom (48 percent vs. 39 percent) and Millennials are almost two times as likely to be bored. 51% of respondents who described issues with boredom stated they feel this way for more than half of their work week.

What??? Half the week????

The result of boredom can be feelings of irritation, cynicism, and worthlessness. This can easily be misconstrued as burnout.

Why does it matter?

While both scenarios are within your control, the boredom fix may be easier to address immediately. And when you feel anxious, depressed, and irritable, immediate is awesome.

How to get ‘un-bored’ at work

1. It may seem counterintuitive but find some fun outside of working hours.

As a middle aged mother of 4, I can tell you that this is harder than it sounds. When your every waking hour is dedicated to providing a service to others, you aren’t having a lot of fun. The day after day monotony of it all can be heavy. We tend to blame our jobs because that is more socially acceptable than hating your home life. But grab the low hanging fruit and see what happens. Make fun a priority at home. The ‘buzz’ will seep into your work life as well. You may have a different energy as a result.

Note- you get to define fun. Dates, projects, hobbies, meditation, trips, etc. There’s no rule here. Get creative. Don’t be afraid to just do something once. You don’t need to commit to a new ‘thing’ that defines you.

2. Rethink the value equation. More desk hours does not equal more value. Do you really need to be working a typical shift?

In salaried, and especially remote work, it’s easy to feel tied to your desk all day. Instead, each morning, prioritize the most important tasks on your palate. Define what completion and success looks like. Assign times to them and get cranking. Then stop.

If you have free time in the day—TAKE IT!!!!

Remote and hybrid work is a new world. We get to define the experience.

3. Get Intrapreneurial

Spin up something brand new in your company. Are you:

· A risk taker

· Innovative

· An optimist

If so, discuss a new idea or process with your leadership team and see if they will sponsor a new venture within the company.

4. Spend more time doing things that matter. This is one of my favorites. We live in a world that is busy, busy, busy. As a result, we do shoddy work. We do everything as fast as possible. Eating, talking, emails, all of it. Could this boredom be an opportunity to slow down? What if we sent thank you notes, went on walks with coworkers, asked for feedback? This could be an invitation to do truly spectacular work that changes everything.

5. Find more challenging work. Sometimes a nuclear approach is the only option. If none of the above works (and I encourage you to try these first!!) you may need to step out and find a new challenge. Make sure you spend time designing your new gig and don’t settle for the same work in a new office. I coach people on how to make sure this move is a good one.

Sometimes entire teams get bored. That can be an indicator of weak business planning, goal setting, or accountability.

I coach teams on these principals and move them from bored to high performing.

So, are you burned out or bored????

Learn more and schedule a call at

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