Lost Interest In Work? What Is Causing It? How Do You Overcome It?

The good news is that you are not alone in feeling this. Let’s see what we can do about our boredom at work, shall we?


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Have you ever sat at work, and been so devoid of interesting things to do, you could literally hear time passing? You check your calendar and can’t believe it’s only Wednesday – the week already feels so long, you could swear its Friday! You look around, and everything seems so drab. You look at your to-do list, and can’t be bothered to start working because it’s just… boring! As you may have guessed, this article is for you if you can relate to the scene described. 

We all know about motivation – the driving force that makes us do things. According to psychological theories, there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is where you do things because you enjoy doing them – watching films, drinking hot chocolate while it rains, listening to music, playing games. You indulge in these activities for the pure joy of doing them – there aren’t other “end goals”.

Extrinsic motivation on the other hand, is when you do something for an expected “reward” – working a boring job because you earn money, behaving in a civilized manner so you won’t be an outcast, working out at a gym so you can fit into those clothes – these activities are means to ends, and may not be wholly enjoyable in themselves. Of course, there are also activities that have intrinsic and extrinsic value, like playing a sport because you enjoy it and it keeps you fit – but we’ll keep it simple for the sake of brevity.

So.. how is this related to my boredom at work?

Boredom takes birth when there is a lack of motivation.

Either because you are running low on intrinsic motivation – the work itself doesn’t drive you:

  • Your daily tasks/projects aren’t interesting enough
  • There is no utilization of your skillset
  • Your tasks are too repetitive and monotonous
  • There is no real challenge
  • You aren’t learning anything new
  • You aren’t entirely sure why you are doing what you are doing

Or because you are lacking extrinsic motivation – the things surrounding your work bother you:

  • There isn’t much room for creativity or autonomy
  • There isn’t much scope for growth/promotions
  • Your office/work environment isn’t stimulating
  • You abhor your colleagues and/or boss(es)
  • There isn’t adequate encouragement/praise for doing well
  • You are paid too little for what you do
  • Your position doesn’t justify your qualifications
  • You are too comfortable in a familiar environment

The good news is that you are not alone in feeling this. Let’s see what we can do about our boredom at work, shall we?

Take the initiative to find meaningful work:

Mundane tasks that are done for the sake of financial stability or recognition are bound to become tedious. Start making your workplace a fun place for yourself. Ask your seniors for interesting projects by displaying initiative – identify what the organization needs, take on a research survey, get trained in a new skill, teach your colleagues something you know, network across departments and get involved in different types of work. You spend a majority of your waking hours at the office – create a stimulating environment for yourself.

Find challenges:

The Yerkes Dodson law outlines the relationship between arousal and performance. Low arousal aka motivation negatively impacts performance. Increase your arousal by setting yourself challenges. Rein in your personal deadlines, look for new ways to do things, work in a group instead of solo or vice versa, use a newly acquired skill set. Machines today have oversimplified tasks, leaving the mind with a clerical job of assigning errands to machines. Try and deny yourself a calculator/gadget to improve your thinking power, and experience the process.

Become aware of the overjustification effect:

Too much extrinsic motivation leads to the overjustification effect, diminishing the intrinsic pleasure of doing something. Constantly receiving praise or increments for doing your work makes you feel like that is the only reason to do the job, in the absence of which, the motivation is lost. This takes away from the original joy that made you want to get into the field in the first place. Look for things within the task that you enjoy – the analytical aspect, or that you learn more about the word. Identify your external needs, and strike a balance with the internal.

Too many expectations from work:

Clarify the role of your job in your life – is it the activity you do to pay your bills? Or for social appreciation? Are you doing it because you are passionate about your field? Or for entertainment – to keep you active? Expect that one activity – your job – cannot tick every “expectation box”, and doing anything on a daily basis WILL get wearisome. Identify and accept why you are doing your job, and fulfill other needs through other undertakings.


Sometimes, you have been somewhere for too long and gotten comfortable with the routine and consistent paychecks. You know your work like the back of your hand, and it doesn’t take much effort. Alternately, you got into something with a different profile than you were expecting, or found out later that it isn’t something you enjoy. If after going through the steps above, you still find yourself under-stimulated – quit. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that something has run its course, and moving on.

“Boredom: the desire for desires” – Leo Tolstoy

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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