When is it time to quit a job that’s too easy?

I have been working at a public university for the past three years and was able to switch positions twice to secure better paid and more interesting jobs.  I make good money now and have good benefits. Before that I worked in Europe (where I am from). I tested as an ESTJ and am excellent at organizing, administering processes, and communicating with people.

The problem that I keep having, though, is always the *same* at all jobs that I have ever held (in Europe and the U.S.). Here is how it generally goes:

I start the job, I learn the job, I improve and invent new processes and make things more efficient. Then I get too fast at what I do and my tasks do not fill my day anymore. Then I go to my supervisor and ask for additional tasks. Often these tasks are easy to do, unimportant, and do not fill my time. So most of my days at work I could complete all my tasks during a couple of hours (including responding to emails, etc.) Then I sit there, do busy work, surf the web. It’s super boring, making me depressed and angry. After having had these experiences, I do not know where to go next with my career or which type of position is good for me. I feel like I always played it safe career-wise, but I also don’t know what I could do instead.

My husband is still in school, so I can’t just stop working.

On a – very important – side note: I am also currently in fertility treatment (still pre-IVF, most likely starting IVF in February 2015). I hope I get pregnant soon. I feel like raising a family would make me very happy right now, but with my health condition I can’t count on being able to have a baby  for sure. Being bored at work does not help keeping my mind not circling around my infertility constantly. I do Yoga and acupuncture to ease my mind.

I want to break the cycle I am experiencing at all of my jobs (learn-improve-bored). What do you think I should do?

12 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You want more important things in your life. That makes sense. But you are doing something very important right now: fertility treatments.

    It’s a big deal to go through that process, and it’s a much bigger deal to have a baby to deal with. We cannot have huge things going on in all parts of our life. Right now the important part of your life is your personal life.

    I have never heard from a new mother who says the work she does outside of the home, in addition to having a new baby, is too easy for her. In fact, easy work is great respite from the incredibly difficult work of adjusting to being a mother.

    So for not relish the fact that you have a job that is easy. And after you get through the fertility treatments, and you’ve got a baby — then take another look at your job and decide what you want to do next.


  2. Kali
    Kali says:

    Penelope, as always, I think you have offered great advice especially speaking from a parent who understands the challenges in finding the “happy-medium-balance”.

    To ESTJ Good luck with everything! I think you will soon truly understand Penelope’s advice.

  3. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    I experienced the same thing when I was working full-time jobs, so I quit working full-time jobs and went into project-based contract work. Now my cycle is learn-improve-done, then I take a few months off to have fun, and then I start another assignment.

      • Pirate Jo
        Pirate Jo says:

        I find work in financial, business, data, and reporting analyst roles.

        If you really want to make great money as a contractor, experienced developers can make a killing.

  4. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    One other thing that occurred to me. When you run out of work, don’t ask your manager for tasks. As you have already noticed, that just gets you more boring gruntwork. You don’t need to do somebody else’s least desirable tasks.

    Instead, what you need is additional responsibility – a process or project that you have ownership of. You have enough talent and experience to determine your own tasks. So you can go to your manager and say, ‘I’d like to be in charge of X.’ Put some thought into it first, and decide what you want to be in charge of, and then you can go ask to do what you’d really like to be doing.

    When you ask your supervisor for more work, you’re putting it on them to keep you busy. But think about what you’d like to be busy doing, and then ask for it specifically.

  5. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    If you feel like you want a career change to something more challenging but can’t leave right now, just spend your down time studying. I don’t see the issue. Commit yourself to learning something new and I guarantee you won’t be bored. It’s time you get to improve yourself.

    • Amy Axelson
      Amy Axelson says:

      Exactly, Daniel. Also, keep a to-do-when-bored-at-work list, one you keep with you all the time, even when not at work. That way, when you find yourself with no work at work, you can go at your list.

      Independent contracting / project based work is a good idea too. It is something you can do as a mom too–whenever you feel like it. You could even take on side projects now while you are bored at work.

  6. Becky Castle Miller
    Becky Castle Miller says:

    You would probably enjoy a consulting role. You go to a new client, learn their problems, help them fix their problems and put processes in place, then you get to move on to a new client!

  7. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I am an INTJ designer and I love working with ESTJs. My weak points are follow through and translating my brilliant strategy into step by step tasks.

    Which is the perfect challenge for an ESTJ. So look around for an INTJ to hook up with. They are never going to run out of ideas. An SAHM with a side project that she wants to spin up might be the right cultural fit.

  8. ENFP not fluent in xSTJ
    ENFP not fluent in xSTJ says:

    You could start up a second job during your work hours, anything that could fulfill your Te cravings:

    – it would have to be online
    – it would have to be discreet enough for people to not realize you’re doing a second job at your first job’s desk
    – it would have to responsibility and “chores” driven (I mean what feels like chores to me feels like heaven to you)
    – question: I don’t anything about taxes, but if it showed on your taxes, could you get fired for that?

    – posting an online ad about doing paperwork for people who don’t wanna do their paperwork
    – doing someone else’s accountancy stuff
    – ?

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