I highly doubt that you wake up in the morning excited about filling in spreadsheets, setting a budget, answering emails, or folding laundry. But not everything in life is exciting and we all have to do incredibly boring work out of necessity from time to time. The good news? There are ways to stay motivated to handle mundane work. And, if think that’s impossible, then check out the following tips to make even the most boring task a bit more tolerable.
Focus on why.
No matter what the task is, there’s always a why behind it. This is one way to stay motivated to handle mundane work. For example, cleaning the house may make you feel relaxed or accomplished. Responding to those emails can keep your boss or clients happy.
Instead of thinking that there’s no purpose behind that boring, mundane work, focus on why this work is important. Once you focus on the why, you’ll be more motivated complete the task at hand.
If you haven’t done so yet, I strongly recommend you check out what Simon Sinek has to say about starting with why.
Force yourself to be curious.
“My boredom is usually the loss of curiosity,” says Steve Gordon, director of RDQLUS Creative Arts and Marketing. “If I catch myself bored with a project, I’ll stop to read magazines or watch a film, even in the middle of the day. I search for something far away from work, yet linked to the same battery crucial to that work.”
“Gamification is applying elements of gaming (for example, competition, point-scoring, and rules) to motivate and engage. It’s something teachers have used for years. Higher education is even getting into the fun, using gamification techniques to increase student engagement,” writes Liesha Petrovich in the Huffington Post.
For example, some businesses are using sites like Chore Wars to boost motivation. This can be either a one-time contest or an ongoing program. This site creates weekly leader boards and awards prizes each week.
Employees can even “recruit a party of adventurers from your household or office” and create their own characters. Even though it sounds childish, creating a gamification system in your business or home doesn’t have to be complicated. It can just be fun.
Think about that sense of accomplishment.
Instead of dreading this tedious task that’s been hanging over you, think about how you’ll feel when it’s done and over.
You probably have a clear and feel better awesome since you get this work out of the way. In fact, when that sense of accomplishment sweeps over it should motivate us to keep pushing forward.
For example, I cringe when tax season arrives, but if I suck it up and get it over with I can focus on more important things.
So, just keep reminding yourself that the faster you get the task over, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of being finished.
Attach GIFs to your emails.
Emails aren’t always the sexiest of tasks. But, you can spruce them up with an assist from GIFs.
As J.T. O’Donnell explains on Inc.com, “It started a couple of years ago with a simple email. I sent out a client success story. My team sent back responses, but instead of text, started attaching gifs.”
“It quickly became a standard mode of happy communication in our office. At least once each day, someone sends out a comment about work with a gif attached. We immediately all jump in. It’s instant laughter at your desk. Each new email comment is like a little joke gift in your inbox.”
Work in short bursts.
What happens when you concentrate on something for too long? Your mind probably starts to wander and then nothing really gets done. This becomes an even bigger problem when you’re spending too much time on something boring.
You may start off fine, but then you check out Facebook, a YouTube video, and book a hotel for your next business trip. Next thing you know the day is over and that task is still lingering.
By working in short bursts you can maintain your focus so that you don’t get off track. I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique is an excellent way to achieve this. It helps you stay productive and focused since you take a small break after working for a solid 25 minutes or so.
“Things that cause discomfort or boredom are often perceived as unnecessary or even threatening activities, which soon leads to us doing something else instead,” writes the fine folks over at Daily Bits.
“Instead of forcing yourself to finish something that feels altogether unpleasant you can use rewards to boost yourself. Tasks we avoid can be associated with an activity that feels rewarding, in order to make them more appealing.”
“This principle is called fusing, a term coined by Henry Murray, professor of psychology at Harvard University. By combining long-term achievements with something that provides an immediate reward our work becomes more appealing, which in turn lessens the risk of procrastination.”
Have a partner in crime.
Working with someone else makes those dull tasks just a bit less boring. For example, instead of cleaning the house alone, crank some music and get your spouse involved. Believe it or, it can actually be kind of fun.
If you’re a freelancer who’s sending out invoices, invite a fellow freelancer over to your house so that you both can send out invoices. If you’re in an office, ask a colleague to lend a hand – just make sure to return the favor.
This may sound too simplistic. But, when you’re working with someone, you’ll be motivated to get the work done faster. This is because you’re either sharing the work or just having someone to talk to. It can even be rewarding since if you get the job done, you can then go out to lunch, for example.
Find alternative ways to do it.
“Another great way of tackling the task is to find alternative ways to do it,” writes productivity and time management enthusiast Timo Kiander. “For example, if you hate cleaning your home, you may want to think of different ways of handling the task – like cleaning it room-by-room, cleaning it by starting from a living room first (if you have started from a kitchen normally) and so on.”
“This way you may think about that irritating task bit differently and starting the task may not be that difficult.”
“This is what I have done when it comes to my hardest exercise of the week – the way I do it varies (the location might be different) and this keeps the motivation alive – instead of just doing the exercise the same way, over and over again.”
Do you loathe a task like filling? If so, consider “sandwiching” that task between two other things that actually you enjoy doing.
According to productivity strategist, Mike Vardy from the self-development site Productivityist said, “This allows me to focus on at least two of the tasks I’m loathed to work on and I counter-balance them with two tasks I enjoy working on.”
It’s a simple way to ease the pain.
How do you stay motivated to handle mundane work?