What are some excellent ways to combat boredom as a developer? I've reached this point where I am fighting serious boredom and burn-out with what I do. I'm confident its not boredom with the subject matter and what entails being a developer as much as it is what I find myself doing ( a lot of mundane tasks and reinventing the wheel for the sake of office politics ). I feel like I spend more time coming up with code fixes for a broken system so it can limp along another day than actually being able to build new applications or rebuild the existing application so it can help the company perform at its best.

In contrast, I don't have the same view of my own applications I work on outside the office because I'm afforded creativity and being able to do things right the first time rather than do things just to get by as the model is in the office. When it comes to my own applications, I enjoy learning and trying new concepts and can easily sit for hours without concern for time.

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    You might have better luck in chat - this sort of question is not really a good fit for a Q/A site, but Programmers Chat or Workplace Chat would probably be better fits.
    – enderland
    Jun 18 '15 at 13:41
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    You might find Personal Productivity SE useful as well.
    – David K
    Jun 18 '15 at 14:27
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    Real work is boring at times. Jobs always entail more than just playing or doing just what you find interesting. They are what is necessary for the organziation to run. Organizations care about whether it works or not , not whether it does it the most elegant way. If you want to be a hobbyist and work only on what you find fun then cool, then do something else for a living.But you wil still be bored at times. That is the intrinsic nature of working for a living.
    – HLGEM
    Jun 18 '15 at 14:52
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    @HGLEM That's not the most helpful response. Its rather common sense that not everyday is going to be fun or interesting. There is a level of sheer grit to get through the not so pretty things in our work at times. My point moreso reflects the sheer boredom that develops from monotony. I've worked on many rewarding applications and large projects. The case is the opposite for this firm; a lack of growth, growing stagnancy combined with churning out redundant work.
    – Alex
    Jun 18 '15 at 15:14
  • @Alex: lack of growth doesn't necessarily imply lack of improvements. If a company has no plans to grow outwards, that stability is an opportunity to improve inwards by improving efficiency, improving processes to cut costs, improving productivity with less efforts. If, as you said, the current situation with the code is horrible, then there should be a lot of room for internal improvements.
    – Lie Ryan
    Jun 21 '15 at 7:20

Creativity can thrive when there are constraints. It's great to have a totally blank canvas and put on it anything you want, but there are challenges in your work programming. You need to start understanding the business more and learn how things fit together.

Things like legal regulations, market trends and customer requests will never seem logical when taking an uninformed look from the outside. You'll feel like you're digging a ditch only to fill it up later for no apparent reason.

Start talking to non-programmers at your company. I hope you discover the benefit to others that your code bring. The difference between being a rock breaker and a cathedral builder is perspective.

Take some time to really think creatively about the tasks you were given and find another solution. It may not be better, but you need to get out of the habit of only taking the quickest path because of the time constraints. You may find that you could have been doing something more creative than you thought.

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    I've sought that approach but unfortunately the management just looks at it as let's fix it just enough so it works. They don't want a sound solution, they just want what's going to keep their b2b customer around another day to cut them another check. Then something else breaks and it's the same approach. putting out fires with code because management doesn't want to invest the time and resources. I just found out my newly assigned dev machine is circa 2007. My personal dev machines are never more than 2 years old.
    – Alex
    Jun 20 '15 at 18:35

Let's generalize this a bit. You are bored with the repetitive daily tasks of your job, and while there are more entertaining projects, you aren't working on those. There is a general plan to work on the more exciting parts of your job (at least for jobs that have them).

If you aren't good enough to work on the interesting stuff, get better. There will be dull boring dirty work, and the ones most likely to be assigned are those whose skills wouldn't be better spent on the more complex (and often less dull tasks).

Being good enough isn't good enough, your manager needs to know you are good enough. Let your manager know you have skills, take the opportunity to show them when you have the chance. If your coworkers know a bit about your outside projects, word will spread that you can do more than the dull tedious bits (assuming those projects are SFW).

Now, if either you can't show your manager (some people can't be convinced) or if there is only boring dull work to be done and you have the skills to do more, then the next step is to look at moving someplace where you are working on better projects.

There will always be dull boring work, but in many fields (such as software development), if you have the skills you should be able to secure plenty of exciting work to go along with it.

Finally, the exciting projects you see may not make business sense to management. Maybe they are wrong, but until you have shown your value time and time again, they aren't going to listen. The goal is to show your skill to get on the exciting projects they decide are worthwhile, not to convince them to add new projects you think are exciting.

  • the thing is I have worked on many great projects for fortune 50 firms, so my skills are up to par in that regard. In this organization its more a "want" of management to have the latest most robust technologies and solutions but there is so much lost in putting out fires rather than planning. I work with a non-technical manager who likes to think he's a code savvy person, but is constantly asking me questions on how to build basic functions, which just adds to the feeling of monotony.
    – Alex
    Jun 18 '15 at 15:30
  • As a developer, few things are more frustrating than dealing 1.) with non-technical IT managers who think they know their stuff and 2.) Being told we want xyz and you know the way they want it is going to fail in a few months if not sooner and result in more work that you're going to have to do later. That is part of what leads to the boredom and even a bit of disillusionment. Its the quintessential two steps forward 3 steps back seesaw.
    – Alex
    Jun 18 '15 at 15:33
  • If it is bad management but higher management is happy with the current performance (or not unhappy enough to change things), then the only solutions are wait and pray or change jobs. You could try playing office politics to remedy the situation, but the payoff is never worth the cost and many people end up eaten alive. In short, boredom is a symptom of a deeper problem. Jun 18 '15 at 20:30

It's time for a show and tell. Show the management how much money they would have been able to save if they had just stopped the fire and invested in improving the processes in some point in the past. Tell them that this is not a futile situation and that your can improve the situation. Show then that you can do the improvements that you proposed. Tell them what you intend to do, what you needed from the company, and how long it would take for their investments to recover its initial costs. Show them the risks of not improving the situation. Tell them the risks of the investment and the exit strategy if the project doesn't work out.

Talk in their own language, in a language they can understand, so they can evaluate the values, costs, and risks themselves.

Do your research. Quantify these costs, risks, and returns. Managements usually don't like taking about things in terms of "better", they need real numbers to work with.

If the management is still unwilling to buy in and assuming that you believe that you have made a reasonable and sensible proposal, then the biggest problem you have is that your priorities aren't aligned with the company's priorities. You are a poor fit with the job that your company is offering you. Find another job in which you can express your personality better.


Your job sounds boring. I code- and I love it. Honestly I could just tell you that we all have ruts in our life and we need to work through it, but it sounds to me like you need some change in your life. Consider applying for a new job in a different city. Or consider starting your own company while working there to earn money. Create the job you want. People think they need to somebody else- they dont!

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