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Tips for combating boredom that’ll make your work day suck less

(BUSINESS NEWS) If it’s not procrastination, it’s boredom, and it can be tough to get work done when it strikes. Believe it or not, there’s a few things you can do to beat boredom.

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bored-throwing-papers

The struggle is real

Our subject for the day is boredom. Specifically, it’s about focusing on and working through boring subjects. That is to say, my job today is literally to write about boring things, or more accurately, to write about writing about boring things.

Hasn’t been a breeze, if I’m being honest.

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I’ve been beating my head against this sucker all day, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to get that was a good thing. I’m a little dense sometimes.

Boredom is part of the work experience.

If there is a single homo sapien out there who legitimately loves every part of their job, I would like to meet them. And possibly steal their brain.

For science.

Pro-tips

On the subject of brains and science, Barbara Oakley at Harvard Business Review has taken on the question of how in Heaven’s name you’re meant to get your beleaguered headmeat through the parts of your position that, while absolutely necessary, are complicated by the fact that you hate them just so… so much. The whole article is worth a read, but rather than summarize, let’s augment.

Here’s a two-step take on how to beat boredom in the workplace, by way of two articles from right here at Genius Media.

1. The Zen of Zeigarnik.

That’s Dr. Bluma Zeigarnik to you, Soviet-era Lithuanian psychiatrist and sociologist, discoverer and namesake of the Zeigarnik Effect, which in addition to sounding like perfect Ludlum-level beach reading, is a brilliant hack for boredom, business-based or otherwise.

The simple version is that your brain hates unresolved tasks very nearly as much as your boss.

A start, any start, sets your thought processes working. A famous implementation is the Pomodoro Technique, referenced in the previously linked article and definitely a workable approach to the problem. But it all comes back to Zeigarnik and the power of constructive distraction. The trick is to step back and let your brain work.

2. Nothing is Boring

Road signs. I had to write about road signs this week. Shockingly, I did not find myself passionately enthused about the subject. Took some effort to get going.

Then, somehow, it took even more effort to stop.

Road signs are flippin’ fascinating. I could not have called that until I bit my lip, drank my tea and forced a first sentence. There’s a whole complex interplay of power between the contractors who control where and what the signs are, only they’re restricted by what has been paid for by businesses in need of advertising, only THEY’RE restricted by state regulations that keep signs useful rather than letting them turn into tiny billboards. In pure Mad Men business drama, all of those interests conflict with each other only instead of the Glengarry account we’re talking about basic functionality for the greatest public works project in American history.

That being the case, I’m putting forth a theory: if there’s something interesting about those big blue squares on the interstate that tell you where the Denny’s is, there is something interesting about everything.

My advice?

All you need is a hook. If you can’t find one, make one: I finish this, I get a latte. Let’s write this report in a completely different format. What if I break this task into three, not two, not four, but only three parts?

How would I do that?

Gamify. It’s better than Solitaire.

This is a strategy, not a solution. If I’d solved “work is not always fun,” you would not be reading it here. You’d be hearing it TED Talk-slash-Nobel in Economics lecture. To my knowledge, I am not at present a candidate for either of those things.

But my personal experience is that those things work, especially in tandem. They got me through road signs, not to mention blockchain, Catholic crowdfunding, and home equity spreadsheets. At the risk of sounding like the kind of banner that makes you download ad blockers, it took just two weird tricks to make those things interesting.

Give them a shot.

#beatboredom

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tomáš Hubálek

    July 12, 2017 at 3:56 am

    My motivation working on my own projects improved Focus Timer Reborn. It is Android app that has nice stats so you are motivated to improve them. So it is a bit like donkey-carrot system 😉

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seasonal employment scams are back on the menu and here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation surrounding the holidays, employment scams typically have a resurgence during this season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions and beyond aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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Business News

Genomelink is a one-stop-shop for your DNA data, but is it safe?

(NEWS) Genomelink is presenting a dashboard product to unlock further insights using your genetic data. Sounds cool…until you think about privacy.

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dna ancestry tests representing genomelink

Have you ever done one of those nifty home test kits to check your ancestry? In this new world where covid is a long-term reality and the resulting boom in telehealth services, genetic home test kits are seeing a comeback in popularity. What many consumers aren’t aware of, is what happens to their data after they get their report back. Now, there is a new contender in the market called Genomelink that is presenting a dashboard product to unlock further insights using your genetic data. That sounds cool… until you start thinking about privacy.

Most of the major companies in the business don’t even give you the option to not have your data sold, but that fact is buried so far into the fine print, it is no wonder that people miss it. Research published in the journal Nature found that genetic-testing companies frequently fail to meet even basic international transparency standards. Unifying all this data into one dashboard product unlocks even more opportunities for your data to be compromised.

There are four big glaring red flags prospective users should be aware of:

1. Cyber security standards in the genetic testing industry are low-tier.

2. The protocols for how to make your information “anonymous” before they sell it en masse are laughably ineffective.

3. There are no restrictions on who can purchase it or for what purpose.

4. Genomelink is trying to build a platform to streamline access to this data for “all users everywhere.”

Genomelink Co-founder Tomohiro Takano provided the following quote on ProductHunt.com: “We believe in the future, billions of people will have access to their DNA data. When that happens, imagine: [the place] where you will store DNA data and how you [will] connect data [to an] app ecosystem. That will be Genomelink in a nutshell.”

As someone who lives with disabilities, the last people I want to have access to my DNA data are health or life insurance providers or other for-profit interests who may not have my best interests in mind. Genomelink’s vision sounds like the well-intentioned beginning of something with the potential to be abused in sinister ways.

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Business News

9-to-5 workdays are no longer the norm: Flexibility brings productivity

(BUSINESS) Doing away with 9-to-5 workdays in a cubicle can work wonders for a team’s productivity. This is no longer a dream, but today’s reality.

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productivity outside of the challenging the norm of 9-to-5 workdays

As we’ve seen in recent years, many of the old concepts about work have been turned on their heads. Many offices allow a more casual dress as compared to the suit and tie standard, and more and more teams have the option of working remotely. One of these concepts that have been in flux for a bit is challenging the norm of 9-to-5 workdays. Offices are giving more options of flex hours and remote work, with the understanding that the work must be completed effectively and efficiently with these flexibilities.

Recently, I got sucked into one of those quick-cut Facebook videos about a company that decided to test out the method of a four-day workweek. This gave employees the option of what day they would like to take off, or, it gave employees the option to work all five days of the week, but with flex hours.

Despite the decrease in hours worked, employees were still paid for a 40-hour workweek which continued their incentive to get the same amount of work done in a more flexible manner. With this shift in time use, the results found that employees wasted less time around the office with mindless chit-chat, as they understood there was less time to waste.

The boss in this office had each team explain how they were going to deliver the same level of productivity. The video did not share the explanations, but it could be assumed that the incentive of a day off would encourage employees to continue their level of productivity, if not increase it.

This was done with the goal of working smarter, rather than harder. Finding ways to manage time better (like finishing up a task before starting another one) helps to stay efficient.

During the trial, it was found that productivity, team engagement, and morale all increased, while stress levels decreased. Having time for yourself (an extra day off) and not overworking yourself are important keys to being balanced and engaged.

There is such a stigma about the way you have to operate in order to be successful (e.g. getting up early, using every hour at your disposal, and using free time to meditate).

Let’s get real – we all need a little free time to check back in with ourselves by doing something mindless (like a good old-fashioned Game of Thrones binge). If not, we’ll go bonkers.

Flex hours and remote working are not all about having time to do morning yoga and read best-seller after best-seller. Flex hours give us the time to take our kids to and from school and comfortably wear our parenting caps without fear of getting fired for not showing up to work precisely at 9 AM.

9-to-5 workdays are becoming dated and I’m glad to see that happen. So many people run themselves ragged within this frame and it’s impossible to find that happy work-life balance. Using flex options can help people manage every aspect of their lives in a positive way.

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