Archive | October, 2010

If You’re Bored At Work, This May Be Why…

19 Oct

This is a guest post from fabulous writer Liz O’Neill who writes college and career-related articles for several websites and higher education blogs, including eLearners.com, GradSchools.com and the Huffington Post’s College page. She’s also the Boston Examiner for online learning. You can follow her on Twitter @SomethingKnew

Why You’re Bored at Work

Your first job after college should feel like a major accomplishment – especially if you landed it in this tough economy.  But for many professionals – young and old alike – work is not the rewarding experience they envisioned.  Instead, they count the unbearable minutes until day’s end.  They fight the urge to unplug the alarm clock every weekday morning.  They brave their commutes like a recurring death march.

And all because: they are bored by their jobs.

Sitcoms and films like The Office and Office Space garner such devoted followings because the stories they depict are so bitterly familiar.  Nonsensical protocol.  Inept superiors.  Petty status wars.  Unnerving minutiae.  In the abstract, these annoyances are comical.  In reality, they threaten workers’ productivity, morale, and overall quality of life.

Being bored at work is very different from the benign frustration of a kid on a rainy day.  Your career is a major part of your life; it’s both how you define yourself and how you support yourself.  If your professional goals and responsibilities aren’t progressing, or at least stimulating at their current level, you’re more likely to burn out, underperform, or just plain quit.  Identifying why you’re bored will help you isolate the best solution and rehabilitate your daily grind.

The Work Is Too Easy for You

This sounds like a fact you would promptly recognize on your own – and perhaps you already have.  But a surprising number of employees don’t recognize that they’re bored because they’re simply not being challenged.  One reason people fail to notice is that every new job entails a fair amount of stress and adjustment.  At first, you might feel mentally taxed without realizing that very little of that effort corresponds with your actual work duties.

We’re also conditioned to believe that less work or an “easy” job is appealing.  We might think that we envy the receptionist, who fields a few phone calls but spends most of the day filing her nails.  Or we might compare our choices with those of similarly-paid, but less pressured workers.  Toll booth attendants earn a higher hourly wage than teachers’ aides.  Should we too have opted for something simpler?

No, say career counselors.  Time and again job satisfaction surveys indicate that people would rather be overworked and engaged than underworked and detached.  Over-extended employees at least enjoy the confidence that they are needed and trusted with multiple assignments.  Under-occupied employees are left wondering how employers perceive their worth, perhaps even second-guessing their own abilities.

Very few jobs are inflexible to some form of review and expansion.  Ask your boss if you can be included on a new initiative, or take charge of an independent assignment.  No one will fault you for wanting more responsibility.  And if you do well, you’ll be promoted that much quicker.

Your Contribution Is Unclear

If you work in a hospital or a social services environment, you’re lucky enough to see the results of your labor every day.  (These working environments, of course, also come with many downsides and up-close perspectives on life’s saddest injustices.)   But a great many people work for companies and organizations that pen employees behind a wall of facelessness.  The higher ups don’t know the underlings names or what they do.  Worse, the employees themselves aren’t aware of how their efforts impact the bottom line.  How do such workers derive any sense of contribution?

They waste time on Facebook.

NielsenWire recently featured a post that showed Americans’ online activity preferences are overwhelmingly interactive.  Despite our love of leisure, we don’t primarily use the Net to watch videos or shop for shoes.  In actuality, Americans are far more interested in online activities that allow them to contribute.  Most notably, we participate in social networks.  Reading, responding to, and updating profiles is nearly tantamount to a part-time job; it’s certainly more taxing than surfing eBay.  Yet Americans would rather do the work, and feel socially involved, than zone out, and feel isolated.

What’s the takeaway?  Managers shouldn’t be surprised when you ask to get looped in on status updates or company reports.  Make it clear that you’re not looking for praise, but a clearer way to understand and improve upon your performance.  If your company doesn’t require it already, ask for a list of your personal business objectives.  Sit down with your supervisor at regular intervals, to weigh how thoroughly you’re meeting those objectives.

There’s No Room for Individuality

Many experts submit that “boredom is not a consequence of lack of things to do, but is due to an inability to connect with a specific activity.”  How you connect with your job is surprisingly similar to how you connect with friendships or even romantic relationships.  That is, you inject your distinctive personality, your strengths, your creativity, your unique way of thinking.

If you can’t connect, the relationship is bound to fail.  But “creativity,” despite how we often think of it, doesn’t have to mean wildly artsy projects.  On the job creativity can be as simple (and as effective) as suggesting a new approach to a client concern.  It might also mean planning an office picnic, or some other event aimed at employee welfare.

Anything that creates an interesting foothold for you can be the start of newfound enthusiasm for your work.  Research suggests that an employee’s level of pride in his or her company directly correlates to his or her productivity, and eventually to consumer satisfaction with the brand.  In other words, find a way to make work “yours.”

If you work on an assembly line, you’re probably doubting that there’s any way to add your creativity to 8 hours of repetitive tasks.  And you’re probably right.  Some roles are inherently cut and dry.  Employers who have to staff such roles view high turnover rates as the cost of doing business. But you don’t have to view yourself that way.

In the short-term, many of us rely on less than ideal jobs to feed our families and stay afloat.  In the meantime, it’s still important to recognize that the job is less than ideal, so you can begin to plan an exit strategy and a more satisfying career path, along with whatever training that entails.

Thanks Liz! As we venture out into our daily routine these are great and important factors to take into consideration, after all if you are going to spend eight hours a day working you should feel challenged, stimulated and happy.

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Navigating Through The Stress Of College Life

1 Oct

We think college is hands-down the best four years of your life. From the people you meet, the experiences you have, to the lessons you learn, you make memories that will truly last a lifetime. Yet, when you’re in the middle of a semester and juggling a heavy load of classes, working a part-time job, gaining experience at an internship, participating in sports and academic clubs, being part of a fraternity or sorority, and oh, having some time to enjoy yourself – it may feel like you’ll never get out alive! College can be very stressful, but learning to combat that stress can greatly assist you in preparing for the stress of life after college. Here’s some tips for getting you through it!

Get Yourself Organized!
Some people have more of a knack for it than others, but committing to being more organized is an important first step. Create a Google Calendar or use the calendar on your cell phone to schedule yourself – put in when you have sports practice, when clubs meet, and any other meetings or regular activities you need to attend to. Then, create an ongoing to-do list for yourself using a whiteboard or a simple word document, and list out all the things you need to do, and organize them according to their priority levels. Jotting all of your meetings, events, and to-do’s down goes a long way in easing your stress – just having to remember all of that can cause stress! Plus, the feeling of crossing items off your to-do list is so satisfying, isn’t it?

Schedule In Some Me-Time.
We know it might seem a little odd to add “me-time” to your calendar, but trust us, you’ll need the reminder to take a breather and focus on yourself. We recommend scheduling at least an hour of leisure time each day, where you can spend time doing whatever you’d like – relaxing in front of the tv, hitting the gym, spending time with friends – this time is all about YOU, so spend time enjoying yourself!

Gravitate Towards Happiness!
When we’re stressed, we tend to naturally gravitate towards people and things we find unpleasant. Instead, train yourself to focus on the positives in your life, and spend time with the people who make you happy. We can’t avoid everything we find unpleasant, but you don’t have to wallow in it. If you
find yourself succumbing to the stress doldrums, think of three places, events, and people you enjoy. Surround yourself with photos and reminders of them. Include quotes that inspire you, on your desk, on your notebooks, and even on your cell phone.

You can beat stress, and committing yourself to getting through the stress and loving all the great things in your life will put you a mile ahead of the pack when you graduate from college and face the stress of the “real world” head on. Take it from us – owning GreekForMe.com and being able to connect Greek members with the Sorority Apparel, Fraternity Apparel, and Greek Merchandise perfect for them is our dream job, but we’re quite the busy bees! Life is short, so learn to enjoy it, no matter how busy your life is!

This is a guest post that was written by Alicia of Greek for Me you can check out their own insightful blog here.
Thanks to Alicia and Greek for Me for giving our readers a fresh perspective!