A quick Google search will tell you millennials are incurably bored with life and then proceed to tell you how terrible they are because they are bored. I’m from Gen-X but I don’t find it fair to bash on millennials all day long. I have worked with some younger millennials and from what I’ve seen some millennials do suffer from boredom. However, they have some fairly valid reasons for the most part. Even with legitimate reasons for being bored, that doesn’t mean they have to remain bored.
While the exact age range of qualifying millennials is slightly debated, many studies define them as anyone born between 1980-2000. Now this is a fairly significant data point. This places the majority of millennials as either young adults or high school-aged when the United States went through a significant recession. These young people saw their parents struggle, lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose significant investments, or at least cut back heavily on spending. According to this study, the recession likely played a large hand in the delay of major life milestones many millennials have experienced.
So what does this have to do with a humdrum home-life? Well, quite a lot if you think about it. Many millennials found themselves moving back in with parents after completing college. They were unable to find jobs. They couldn’t make do with the normal bills of adult life coupled with outlandish educational debt. Although we’ve slowly moved out of the recession, it has definitely left its mark on the millennial generation. More and more of them sit around at home, avoiding spending money so they fiddle with their electronics. What some haven’t realize is they need to embrace that boredom.
Being alone helps boost productivity and overall creativity
Instead of reaching for a phone, millennials should tackle their to-do list. It is highly unlikely their apartment couldn’t use some tidying up. Having a cleaner space can help reduce the feeling of being trapped. Their minds will be more open to creative ideas in this way. Many millennials turn to Pinterest as a source of creativity. However, in reality, they could be stifling their own original ideas and instead creating a poor imitation of someone else’s muse. So the next time you want to be inspired, try cleaning your house. Or perhaps try engaging in some quiet meditation and leave the electronics alone.
Let your home be a refuge from the overwhelming presences of others
Even extroverts need some downtime from the presence of others. However, with the connectivity of our technology, it is possible to never be truly alone. This is something I had to also learn as I transitioned to working at home and freelancing. It can be terrifying to be out of contact. More than a simple fear of missing out, I was afraid I would miss an opportunity to find more work. Millennials are becoming known for their move more toward freelancing than other generations, and is due to being able to seek jobs from all over the world, all from the comfort of their homes. But this can make them feel trapped in their homes and afraid to turn off their electronics. I know I was, especially as I had my young family to support.
But I had to learn to structure my work so it didn’t invade every aspect of my life.
Even millennials who don’t work from home should try to do what I did.
It brought a good deal of peace to my life and allowed me downtime.
- Designate quiet time – If possible, you should be able to have a set time daily where you don’t use any technology (no listening to music, using phones, computers, game systems, etc). I try to have 2 hours daily, though with work, it isn’t often they can be 2 consecutive hours or at the same time every day. However, it gives me a break to spend unbroken time with my family, on workouts, or on projects I haven’t been able to make time for.
- Focus work – When you work from home with no boss to notice if you spend a little too much time browsing Reddit or reading Huffington Post articles, it can be really easy to call simple goofing off “work research”.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t have fun ever again. But when you find something interesting but not particularly relevant to your work, save it. I usually revisit it when I take one of my self-mandated breaks and find it wasn’t really all that interesting.
Boredom In The Workplace
Not all millennials have chosen the freelance/entrepreneur lifestyle and instead moved into the more traditional workplace. Consequently, these millennials become horribly bored at work. It’s not even just a few disaffected millennials: 55 percent of millennials are bored in the workplace. Over half a generation seems like a staggering number. Is this just a case of over-entitled young adults or is there something seriously wrong?
The answer is a little bit of both. In a world of participation ribbons and being told they are the so unique, is it surprising millennials find many entry-level jobs dead boring?
However, remember the recession I mentioned earlier, it plays a part in millennial’s workplace boredom. Millennials are the most underemployed generation currently in the workforce while also being the most educated generation. So while the market has been recovering, it hasn’t been enough to offset the millennials who seem to be continually hunting for satisfying work. So with this in mind, I’ve got some tips for the bored millennial employee to stay engaged at work.
Talk goals with your employer
This may seem obvious, but it is important to communicate with your boss about your goals. While you’ve likely answered some question about where you see yourself in 5-10 years when you were interviewed, it doesn’t really tell your boss what you want in your current workplace. Ask to have a personal development meeting with your boss and see if you can make an action plan which gives you something to work towards instead of going through the motions with no end goal.
Find your passion and make it your work
Possibly the most cliched advice but valid nonetheless, your work should be something you are passionate This may mean working freelance side projects along with your normal 9-5 job until you can go the self-employment route like I did. Or it means you need to find something at your current work you for which you can develop a passion.
If there is a project coming down the pipe you find interesting, see if you can be assigned to the team working on it. Ask for more training at work so you can branch out and find other areas in your current workplace you enjoy. Millennials aren’t just bored, they are educated, underemployed, driven, and stressed. But they don’t have to stay that way.