“Only boring people get bored” may be a parental quip — but as it turns out, a healthy dose of boredom in your finance department can be just what you’re after.
That was the conclusion to come out of the recent Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology.
Boring, monotonous tasks can actually make people into better problem solvers. And who wouldn’t want that for all their staffers?
Those more tedious tasks allow the mind to wander a bit, which can actually let people daydream and get more creative – something that’s been on the decrease in recent years in workplaces.
So while keying all those invoices into the system may seem like little more than a necessary evil, it might actually be the perfect opportunity for your A/P clerk to hit upon a better way to flow invoices for approval.
The key, then, is how to convert that “boredom” into better results.
Embracing the boredom
You can harness the findings of this research to make the most of the menial that’s a part of almost everyone’s jobs. A few strategies:
- Get a little boredom in everyone’s day. That includes managers and supervisors. Yes, certain positions have their fair share of tedious tasks built into the job description: data entry, filing, etc. But even blocking out a 15-minute window to slog through emails (or clean up your inbox) will afford you the downtime to let your mind wander.
- Limit the extra stimulation. Often the opportunities to recharge and boost creativity get undercut because there are so many chances for stimulation. Try suggesting that folks skip the headphones once a week when they key invoices – that will allow their thoughts to travel in more productive ways.
- Encourage all suggestions, no matter how small. Even if a staffer hits upon an idea to improve something or comes up with a creative solution to a nagging problem, if he or she doesn’t think those suggestions are welcome – or knows how to bring them up – you could be missing out on lots of great ideas. Regularly remind staffers that all suggestions are welcome and that no idea is too small (or too silly) to mention.