Dealing With Boredom

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setzer777
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Dealing With Boredom

Postby setzer777 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:35 pm UTC

Sometimes I have a lot of difficulty focusing on repetitive tasks (such as parts of work, chores, etc.) Some things are okay because you can let your body run on autopilot while your mind does its own thing, but others require just enough focus to interfere with that. There are days I'm okay with it, but other days where I get distracted by anything and everything. How do you focus on doing the same action one hundred times in a row when your mind is screaming at you to give it something more interesting/engaging?

Just as a note: I do actually like my job, it's just that like most jobs there are parts of it that involve rote repetition of an identical process. Recently things have changed so that I'm working from home 3 days a week. On the one hand there are more things to distract me, on the other hand I have hope that being at home might offer more options in terms of dealing with the problem.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Dave_Wise » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:38 pm UTC

I have the same problem and have yet to come to a satisfactory solution. Alcohol carries with it its own set of problems, but what I did find helped was my ipod- just listening to language lessons, music, etc. while I worked helped me ignore the boredom. Also, when I've got a lot to do, I play games- for example, talking to yourself or doing a little dance with the repetitive action (This is a good one, but can look weird).
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby meatyochre » Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:01 pm UTC

www.listentoamovie.com really helps me at work when I have to do repetitive data entry. It hasn't been updated with any movies in a few years, but my work filter doesn't block it and there are lots of good, slightly older movies. (Shaun of the Dead and the South Park movie)
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Kang » Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

I sometimes try to make up different meanings to what I'm doing in my mind. Like when I have to type in some data over and over again I might look for any sort of pattern in it, like there was some hidden message. I remember one case in which another student and I decided to name all the switches in an electrical circuit after Apollo CM instruments, just for giggles. It's stupid but it works sometimes.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby podbaydoor » Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:07 pm UTC

I listen to NPR. It's soothing enough that I can let it fade to background when I'm focusing on something else, but I can rely on something interesting going on whenever I get tired of that and re-focus on the broadcast.
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setzer777
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby setzer777 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:50 pm UTC

Coming up tomorrow is another thing I struggle with - an all day meeting wherein 95% of what is discussed has little to do with me and requires no action on my part. Doodling can only stave off insanity for so long...
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby darknut » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:55 pm UTC

play a game called "sabotage the meeting". the details of the meeting itself may decide just how much you can get away with.
share opinions on things you know nothing about
constantly ask people to repeat things
try to steer discussions off onto random tangents
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby tms » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:29 pm UTC

If I was in a meeting needlessly, my first concern would be dozing off. Which I might counter with working on palindromes or something.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby poxic » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:38 pm UTC

A man who is 'ill-adjusted' to the world is always on the verge of finding himself. One who is adjusted to the world never finds himself, but gets to be a cabinet minister.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby setzer777 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:26 am UTC

Ha! That is pretty awesome, but I'd need a special one for education - we have our own set of jargon.

I'm debating whether it's better to get plenty of rest tonight to steel myself for tomorrow, or whether it's better to be somewhat sleep deprived so that my mind can wander more painlessly (though I can't afford to actually doze off - room is far too small).
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby poxic » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:27 am UTC

Sleep deprivation will make the entire experience worse. You'll be bored stiff *and* feeling shitty.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby setzer777 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:29 am UTC

poxic wrote:Sleep deprivation will make the entire experience worse. You'll be bored stiff *and* feeling shitty.


Yeah, that's probably true. Though oddly enough I occasionally feel really awesome after (the first night of) sleep deprivation. Not exactly a sure bet though.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Hofstadter'sLaw » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:39 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:Sometimes I have a lot of difficulty focusing on repetitive tasks (such as parts of work, chores, etc.) Some things are okay because you can let your body run on autopilot while your mind does its own thing, but others require just enough focus to interfere with that. There are days I'm okay with it, but other days where I get distracted by anything and everything. How do you focus on doing the same action one hundred times in a row when your mind is screaming at you to give it something more interesting/engaging?

Just as a note: I do actually like my job, it's just that like most jobs there are parts of it that involve rote repetition of an identical process. Recently things have changed so that I'm working from home 3 days a week. On the one hand there are more things to distract me, on the other hand I have hope that being at home might offer more options in terms of dealing with the problem.


I have a similar situation where I have to do something repetitive that still requires thought at home for an internship. And it's work that involves the internet, so it's hard not to stop and check e-mail or watch a YouTube video or something.

I've found that setting a goal and then allowing myself a short break when I reach the goal helps a little. I get a reward for having self control, and it gives me a chance to recharge and wake up from the dullness/repetitiveness a little. Like, I have to do the work for one hour, and then I can watch an episode of a TV show before doing the work for another hour. Maybe you could do your thing so many times, then take a short break.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:36 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:Ha! That is pretty awesome, but I'd need a special one for education - we have our own set of jargon.

I'm debating whether it's better to get plenty of rest tonight to steel myself for tomorrow, or whether it's better to be somewhat sleep deprived so that my mind can wander more painlessly (though I can't afford to actually doze off - room is far too small).

Spend your first meeting designing your vocation-specific Bullshit Bingo card.

Spend subsequent meetings playing/twerking it.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Enuja » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:28 pm UTC

For meetings, knit! You've got to make clear to everyone that it helps you pay attention, but it can work wonders. Although this from a person who likes repetitive physical tasks, so it might not help for you. For repetitive tasks that are both mental and physical (so you can't knit), listen to instrumental music.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:42 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:For meetings, knit! You've got to make clear to everyone that it helps you pay attention, but it can work wonders. Although this from a person who likes repetitive physical tasks, so it might not help for you. For repetitive tasks that are both mental and physical (so you can't knit), listen to instrumental music.


That seems a tad inappropriate for a work meeting.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Enuja » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:50 pm UTC

Social norms can be manipulated by the community in question. Is doodling inappropriate? If not, there is no inherent reason that knitting is inappropriate. Maybe you should use wooden instead of metal needles to make the sound as quiet as writing with a pen, but if the point is to listen to other people talk, sometimes contribute yourself, and occasionally take notes, knitting should be appropriate. In college some friends and I made it socially acceptable to knit in a particular lecture class. I know that workplaces are usually considerably more formal and structured, but if it's OK to doddle, it should be OK to knit. Both keep your hands occupied so it's easier not to get bored, and therefore easier to pay attention.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Chen » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:56 pm UTC

I would imagine that doodling is not acceptable either. It's just that doodling is difficult to notice and distinguish from note taking. Ostensibly you should be at the meeting because your participation is required. If its NOT perhaps that should be discussed with the higher ups rather than finding different ways to just waste the time in said meeting.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Enuja » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:00 pm UTC

Knitting is not a way to waste time during a meeting. Knitting is a strategy to continue to be mentally engaged in a meeting, and, as a bonus, to get something else done at the same time. In the aforementioned lecture class, I got more out of the lectures I knitted during, because my physical distraction prevented me from becoming mentally distracted.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby DaveInsurgent » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:10 pm UTC

Do you have any evidence to support that knitting improves concentration while knitting as opposed to improving the ability to concentrate? (which are not the same thing)

Also, I guess you have the convenience of knowingly not having to use your hands during meetings or lectures... I can't imagine being asked to participate (ad-hoc, as usual) up at a whiteboard or something and having to take pause while putting down my knitting. All in all, I doubt many highly paid professions would tolerate such behaviour, and understandably so. As already stated (in different words): the best way to deal with a meeting that doesn't engage is to not attend.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Enuja » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:58 am UTC

I wouldn't expect that learning to knit would improve the skill of concentration. My evidence that it's easier to concentrate on meandering lectures while knitting is the ease with I concentrated on a meandering lecture while knitting versus not knitting. An anecdote, but definitely worth investigation. You have to stand up to go to a whiteboard, and putting down your knitting while you stand up does not take appreciably more time than just standing up.

No, knitting does not make sense when you're frantically taking notes, or extensively engaged in adding content to meetings. Neither of those were the case setzer777 was mentioning. Knitting is helpful when conversations are meandering, or only tangentially instead of directly related to you. In these cases, knitting can make the activity more useful, because you stay engaged enough to catch the bits that are relevant to you, or to put together an overarching narrative from a meandering, anecdotal monologue.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Jorpho » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:13 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:Coming up tomorrow is another thing I struggle with - an all day meeting wherein 95% of what is discussed has little to do with me and requires no action on my part. Doodling can only stave off insanity for so long...
If you can make a case for this, why not take it up with your boss properly and do something about it?

I mentioned a while back that I've tried using a shock pen for keeping myself awake during such events, but I'm not sure if it is good for sanity-keeping as well.

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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby LinuxPenguin » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:55 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote:http://www.listentoamovie.com really helps me at work when I have to do repetitive data entry. It hasn't been updated with any movies in a few years, but my work filter doesn't block it and there are lots of good, slightly older movies. (Shaun of the Dead and the South Park movie)


That is brilliant! I'll be making a fair bit of use of that in the next couple of days, i imagine.

Thanks for the URL.
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Re: Dealing With Boredom

Postby Jorpho » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:55 am UTC

How exactly can that be remotely legal, anyway? Or is it just too small to attract attention at the moment?


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