Have you ever noticed that when you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re right there in the moment? Sometimes, you don’t even notice time passing by. Your mind is on what you’re doing, and you’re awake and alert. Then... there are those mundane and boring tasks where five minutes of work feel more like an hour!
Cutting grass, using a carpet cleaner, folding laundry or doing simple paperwork don’t inspire a lot of abstract thought, but it has to be done. While you can evade (delegate!) some boring jobs, often you just have to do it yourself. Sadly, there is no magic wand that can be used to make these jobs easier. Making it more interesting..Again, it’s not something that automatically switches on when you want to. It requires a bit of tact and mental refinement! Here’s a few ways I’ve found this to work:
1. Break it down into smaller chunks. This really works for jobs that span across several hours/days. By breaking it down into smaller chunks, I can spend less time and complete a ”sub task” and have the satisfaction to cross it off in the TO DO list.
2. Resist the impulse to overdo. If you're the kind of person who tends to throw yourself into a job only to burn out after a week or two, consider giving yourself a break. Don't let yourself become obsessed in the beginning. If you have the flexibility to determine the “completion date/time”, carry out the task for a few hours each day and then continue with your daily routine. And all of us benefit from scheduling time for fun, even if it's only sneaking out to a movie or calling up an old friend.
3. Look beyond the actual job. One way to expand your focus when you’re engaged in a task that doesn’t interest you is to find out how it’s connected to something that you do find interesting.
Sometimes only a change of viewpoint is needed to convert a tiresome duty into an interesting opportunity.For example, when Tsunami struck in 2004, I volunteered at the tourist board. As a volunteer, I didn’t have much say on the work that was given to me. It had to be done by somebody. I was given several bundles of paper work. My task was to enter these into a database. The database was supposed to be linked to the web site. The data I was entering were details foreigners who had died, information of hotels in the affected area, contact numbers of relevant authorities etc. I must admit, found the data entry part to be boring and exhaustive. But I did it anyway. I somehow got myself to think beyond what I was doing. I convinced myself that I had to completed this as soon as possible. I kept saying to myself, "once I finish this, relatives in foreign countries will be able to find more information on their loved ones (visiting Tsunami affected areas).... "
4. Use your prime time. Everyone has recurring lazy spots throughout the day. What’s the best time of day, YOU can fully concentrate? Basically, timing plays a big part on how soon you get the boring job done. So, tackling such a task just after lunch wouldn’t be the smartest thing!
5. Set time limits for tasks. How much can you get done in the next half hour? Set a target and see if you can reach it. This makes a tedious task less boring and, as a bonus, frees up more time for things you like to do.
6. Challenge yourself. This works well for me with repetitive tasks. For example, I sometimes keep a record of the time. If it took me 30 minutes to complete the task previously, I would challenge myself to finish in less time.
7. Add variety. Variety is a great way to spice up boring tasks. Try doing your activity in a new way. See if there is a different method for solving the same problem and try that. Having routines can keep you productive, but if you are starting to procrastinate, try switching things up to make it more engaging.
8. Learn more details. There are times when we are hesitant to do a job because it’s too complex. I head over to google and see what I can dig up on the subject. Usually the information I come across, make the job more interesting and sometimes, I even find better ways of doing it.
9. Accept Help. Now, this not imply “dump the task on someone else”! If someone offers to help you in any way, let him/her help. They wouldn’t be offering if they didn’t want to genuinely help you. Remember to be gracious and thank the person for helping you.
10. Engage in enough exciting tasks within the rest of the day. Doing one boring job a few hours won’t be much of a “big deal” if you fill the rest of the day with other interesting things.
11. Pump up the enthusiasm with music. For most people, it’s more fun to do physical work while listening to good music, than it is working in silence. I have mentioned about it before, and I can’t stress this enough.
12. Eliminate Negative Self Talk. Sometimes, even before we take on a task the mind is made up and the task is tagged as “boring”. The little voice in your head serves to make you feel bad and rob you of your energy. If you catch yourself slipping, change gears and focus on appreciating all it is that you already have and the things you have achieved.
13. Reclaim Your Sense of Humor.I know.. it doesn’t seem funny when you lose your motivation and can’t seem to find your way. The best way to change this is by simply deciding to do so. Look for the humor in things large and small, even in taking yourself so seriously to begin with. With a little change of perspective, the world can seem like a whole lot nicer place and that goal of yours not quite so out of reach.
I like to hear how you get through those boring tasks. (without driving yourself crazy!)
- Give Yourself An Attitude Tune-Up
- 31 Ideas To Escape The Monotonous Daily Routine
- Nine Ways to Dwindle Productivity
- Six Sources Of Procrastination
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