Fighting Boredom in a Mundane Environment

(or How to Survive at a Lame Ass Job)

My current job is highly repetitive. I work in a factory doing production work, which is a nice way of saying that I do the same kinds of tasks over and over again for eight-hours a day.

Obviously, it’s not exciting work. It’s very easy to go on “autopilot”, and time will either drag slowly or fly by depending on your approach. If you’re in a similar environment, and you’re allowed to listen to whatever you want while you work, this post is for you. (It’s also a useful post if you have some other boring shit that you need to get done, but you want your mind to be focused on something less brain murdering.)

I’ve found that podcasts and other spoken media (like audio books) are the best choice to distract your mind from whatever mundane work you’re doing. Music is OK, but you’ll grow tired of playlists quickly if you’re listening to them repeatedly (much like whatever task you’re doing, repetition of anything becomes irritating over time). Podcasts have fresh content posted on a regular basis, and there are thousands of podcasts available. Here’s a list of some that I listen to at work:

  • Tech News Today (TNT) This is a podcast that features the technology news of the day every weekday. Each episode runs about 40 minutes, and new podcasts are posted every evening (typically by 9:30 PM MDT). The hosts can be a little cheesy sometimes, but the show regularly features interesting interviews with tech reporters from other outlets (like CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, etc.). If you’re interested in technology and want to stay up-to-date on what’s new in the industry, this show is a fantastic choice. (This show is also part of a network of technology podcasts called TWiT [aka “This Week in Tech”]. I also listen to these other shows on their network: All About Android, This Week in Computer Hardware, Triangulation, and This Week in Law.)
  • Self Made Man This is primarily a podcast for male entrepreneurs, but the content is often useful for everyone. It’s a motivational podcast that features interviews with entrepreneurs in a wide variety of industries, often focusing on the skills, routines and habits, and discipline that led to their successes. Listening to inspirational content while you’re in a mundane environment is very refreshing. (You can also think of business ideas that could help you escape from the shackles of boredom.) New episodes are posted every Wednesday, and every episode ends with a banger EDM track (I have no idea why this is a thing, but I like it).
  • The Art of Charm If you’re interested in improving your social skills, this is the podcast for you. The show features content designed to help you interact with other people, by improving your body language, non-verbal communication, vocal tonality, and a myriad of other social nuances that you may struggle with. There are at least four episodes released weekly: Mondays feature short episodes with quick tips to start off the week, Tuesdays & Thursdays are longer-format interview episodes with guests from a variety of different fields, and Fridays are Q&A based episodes where listeners ask for advice with their difficult social situations. It might seem like a weird show to listen to, but the advice is solid and the interviews are interesting (previous guests on the show include Tony Hawk, Shaq, Larry King, and other notable individuals). This podcast has also been running for over a decade, so there are literally hundreds of episodes in their back catalog, which gives you plenty of old (but still useful, relevant, and interesting) shows to check out when you’re out of other stuff to listen to.

Hopefully these podcasts seem interesting to you, but if they don’t, there are literally thousands of other shows for you to explore. I listen to podcasts through the Spotify app on my phone, but there are dozens of other (much better) options for podcast listening, including Pocket Casts, Stitcher, 60db, and TuneIn.

Good luck podcast hunting, and may your hours of boring labor fly by with relative ease.

-Will

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