Boring Class Solutions
After many years in the world of full-time work, I went back for a summer school class. It was lovely!
The class met five days a week but I didn’t have to be there until 10 a.m., leaving plenty of time to take my dog for a walk in the cool of the morning. I would spend the afternoon in the student center or the library on my homework after catching a tasty and cheap meal on campus. Then I’d take the bus home at 3, avoiding the hassles of parking and traffic.
That was the life!
But I noticed that a number of my classmates had disappeared over the days. I ran into one at the student center and asked her why she no longer went. It was too boring, she said. The professor droned on and on and had nothing interesting to say.
I was shocked. This was a man with years of experience in our field, telling “war stories” from the industry. This girl simply didn’t know what real boring looked like.
Students take an array of courses every semester, often with new classmates and instructors new to them. Those courses go how they go, the students get immediate and hopefully positive feedback in the form of an A and move on to new courses, new people, new work.
But say you get your dream job. Trust me, even your dream job is going to have routine tasks, mandatory meetings, people you may or may not admire or even get along with. And this can, if you are lucky enough to stay employed, go on for years and years.
In one job, I had to attend a weekly staff meeting in which one person would announce — every week — that we were paid less than the maids at a nearby luxury hotel. At another meeting, in which our supervisor had been told to relay the discussions from a different meeting to his staff, I saw a co-worker fall asleep with his eyes open. I wouldn’t have noticed except he started to gently snore.
Boredom will not kill us, fortunately. And in the era of cell phones, most of you know where to turn. But if you can’t use your phone to surf Facebook or send texts like “Help, I’m bored,” here are some other ideas:
Doing something physical, even as simple as writing, helps me pay attention and, in the worst case scenario, can keep my head from landing on the desk. Best of all, I’ll have something to study later, when I need it.
Think Up Questions
Again, just thinking and writing can keep you engaged in the class. As a bonus, if you come up with any good questions, you can also earn participation points with the professor.
You have pen and paper to take notes, but if this instructor has drifted off into personal story land, start doodling. If there is anything at all to note, you can doodle with intention, like coming up with images that help you remember points in the lecture. Or you can do entirely random doodling. I like five-pointed stars, brick patterns, paisley patterns, and if I’m really, really idle, scenic vistas with a mountain cabin surrounded by pine trees, a whirl of smoke coming out of the chimney.
Somehow, you are in the entirely wrong lecture and you’re too embarrassed to get up and leave. Lists are your salvation. You can do a to-do list, a shopping list or even a things-you-wish-you-were-doing-right-now list.
This is my final solution, what I do when I simply can’t do anything else. I don’t have pen and paper and my phone is out of juice. I count, people per row or light fixtures or redheads in the room. People I know vs. people I don’t know. And hopefully I can leave with my head held high and looking like I paid attention, instead of slinking out after that nice but embarrassingly public nap.