Boreout: When an underload becomes an overload.

By Helena Pumberger, 05.05.2021

While the classic burnout, i.e. a physical-psychological state of exhaustion caused by too much stress and an excessive workload, has been a familiar problem in the world of work for a long time, so-called boreout has rarely been examined to date. In this instance, insufficient demands at the workplace over a long period cause symptoms similar to those of burnout. To avoid both, a good work-life balance is crucial.


Someone who has too little to do in their job will ultimately lose all interest in their work. Constantly having to while away the hours is not only boring for those affected, it also leads to a lack of perspective. After all, people have an innate need for new challenges and self-realisation. Out of fear of losing their job and no longer being needed, most sufferers keep their feelings of underload under wraps and constantly pretend to be very busy. Stress is also due to having insufficient challenges and variety, as well as glossing over the actual monotony of everyday life. If this situation continues unabated, the resultant stress can lead to boreout.


How to spot boreout.

Boreout is recognisable by a number of signs, such as frequently recurring feelings of boredom and an increasing loss of motivation. What is more, performance deteriorates rapidly as the sufferer’s capabilities are constantly under-utilised. Feeling unwell and finding it a daily burden having to go back to the office are also constant companions of those affected.


Ways to escape boredom.

 Anyone who has experienced boreout can, and must, do something about their situation. In order to understand how extensive your own area of responsibility really is, it helps to keep a diary for a period of one week. Afterwards, you should try to talk to your supervisor. Whatever you do, you should avoid phrases like “I’m bored”. Instead, it can be helpful to use expressions along the lines of “I have some spare time on my hands and would like to take on more tasks”. If there is still no improvement, then there is often no alternative but to quit and look for a new job.

In many cases, boreout can be prevented through meaningful leisure time activities. A person who is involved in clubs or enjoys an exciting hobby is less likely to experience boreout because a good work-life balance increases contentment, and meaningful responsibilities strengthen the feeling of “being needed”.

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