Advice from Spill's therapists
An exercise to tryUse your time wisely Suggestions to helpRelated resources
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Feeling bored at work

Spill's qualified therapists answer real questions from employees struggling with motivation.

I've been struggling recently with feeling bored, and not being able to get excited about a vision for the business. I struggle with balancing what I want personally versus the responsibility of leading the team forward with direction and enthusiasm. It's creating a tension within me and I'm not sure how to give myself what I need in this context. Any advice appreciated.

Our first therapist suggests...

An exercise to try

Try this exercise:

  • Get a piece of paper and draw a 2 x 2 grid on it.
  • You have four quadrants.
  • The vertical axis represents “Importance” going from low to high.
  • The horizontal axis represents “Urgency” going from low to high.
  • Now populate the matrix with the tasks that occupy you and your thinking.
  • In the bottom left you have tasks that are not urgent or important. Stop doing them.
  • In the bottom right you have tasks that are not urgent but are important. Make sure you have delegated them.
  • In the top right you have tasks that are urgent and important. You need to deal with these so get on and do it because they are business critical. You can delegate them too if you have people who can take them on.
  • In the top left you have the tasks that are not urgent but are important. This is where your vision for the business goes. These are you hopes and dreams that will eventually determine where you and your staff end up.

Make no mistake, as the leader of the business this top left quadrant is what you exist for. If you don’t do this thinking nobody else will so treat it with the importance that it deserves and make sure you do whatever is necessary to put you in the right shape to concentrate on it.

This means being properly rested and having the time and space to think.

Take time out of the business, make yourself unavailable for a chunk of time, go somewhere that helps you to feel peaceful and relaxed, do things that make you feel happy. Whatever it is that you need in order to feel less stressed and exhausted at having to provide no-stop direction and enthusiasm to your team go there and make no apology for it.

It will be the time and effort you have available to give to this sort of strategic thinking that will detremine what the future of the business looks like for you all so I can’t imagine that any of your team will do anything other than support you in taking it.

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Our second therapist suggests...

Use your time wisely

It sounds like you’re at a crossroads — wanting to dedicate time to exploring where to go next but also needing to keep the current status quo moving (with energy and enthusiasm). I can understand the conflict between these demands on your energy. Let’s have a look at some ideas so that you don’t breed resentment about where your energy and attention is getting used up.

Firstly, take a step back. It sounds like you have two main areas at play here; the current work self and the future work self (you will also have many other parts of you demanding your energy too of course). How much or how little do you NEED to offer to these areas at the moment? One may take priority over the other in terms of time but this doesn’t mean the other isn’t as important in terms of desire or development. The ‘future you’ may seduce you into demanding more time but actually need less right now (desire over practicality). Once you have decided how much time you need to carve out for ‘future you’, work out the best times to devote to this. This may be certain evenings or weekend mornings. Or it may be a day of annual leave. Or some time at work that you dedicate to ‘strategic thinking’ (you can even bring others in on some of these sessions).

Interesting you mention the “blurry line” because what I sense lacking here are some distinct boundaries. Don’t try to spontaneously fit it in amongst your other demands as this will feel chaotic and ineffective, plus may lead to resentment when you have to go back to something else more urgent or present.Decide your time ratios (goals), set intention (plan it) and then attend to what you decided at the planned time (focus). You can review and adjust this as you go along. When you are attending to day-to-day work, attend to it fully. When you are spending time researching future ideas, devote yourself to that. Each area you attend to, make it focussed, otherwise you’ll be left languishing with no sense of achievement in either area. It may be worth booking a session with a Spill therapist to explore your future needs (this is protected, dedicated time) to help give this research some shape?

Be mindful too about your other parts of self and include these in your planning and decision making (your social self, family/friends, hobbies, rest, movement, etc).

Time is our most limited resource. How we use our time, attention and energy is so important, so use yours wisely in a way that makes sense to your needs right now. I can hear the tension between the demands on your needs but you can only attend to one thing at any one time. Put a plan in place with clear boundaries for where your attention needs to be…and stick to it.

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Our third therapist suggests...

Suggestions to help

Thanks for your question. You are feeling the pressure of leading your team with a vision and taking time out to think about what you want. It makes sense to me that this creates a sense of conflict.

The following are tips that should help you at this time:

  • Take time away from day-to-day tasks if you are able to. This will give you a break from leading your team and provide the required space to think. If you can’t take time away completely, look for ways to create extra space for yourself. Business leaders need space for reflection. Delegation is likely to be part of this process. Who can step up while you take time for reflection?
  • Accept that nobody performs at 100% all of the time. You are a leader, and this role brings certain responsibilities however you are also human, and you cannot be perfect and do everything.
  • You could try being honest. Admit to your team that you are working on the vision and direction for the company, and it may take time to get clarity on this. It’s normal that companies go through cycles when it comes to vision and strategy. In the meantime, let the team know what you expect so there is no panic. This might just be that things carry on business as usual.
  • Think about whose help you need to clarify a new vision that you can feel passionate about. Who do you need to talk to? What information do you need? What events do you want to attend? Who else has a vision that you can leverage?
  • Consider if you feel more comfortable with day-to-day tasks rather than strategic thinking. Is it possible you are hiding in the day-to-day stuff due to anxiety or preference? Or do you need more support at a senior level?
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