All jobs involve performing repetitive tasks at some point, and not many people look forward to them. Having to do them often causes boredom and a lack of focus, which makes you more prone to making mistakes. While tasks like these can be mind-numbing, they are necessary, so it’s better to learn how to deal with them than to just drone through them like an inefficient robot.
Here are a couple of habits to adapt and tips to follow to make boring tasks less of a nightmare to get through.
Analyze Your Workload
Make a list, mental or physical, of the tasks and activities you’re required to complete on any day. Then, prioritize and group tasks based on how easy they are to complete or how willing you are to do them. Start working on more difficult or tedious tasks early in the day when you’re fresh, and leave the easier ones for when you’re tired out later. This way, you’re less likely to make mistakes when doing tasks you’re not eager to do.
Feel free to try different strategies and see which one works for you — maybe you’d rather alternate between easy and difficult tasks, or doing things in blocks.
Take Regular Breaks
When carrying out repetitive tasks, giving yourself a breather every once in a while can make all the difference. Having to do large amounts of work at a stretch can be more exhausting than the work itself, so give yourself set times to take 5 to 10 minute breaks. A couple of short breaks here and there help keep your mind alert throughout the day, especially if you use these breaks to walk around outside, do some exercise, or eat an energizing snack.
You could do it after working for a certain amount of time, or after completing a specific amount of work, depending on what you feel more comfortable with. For many people, output-based time limits work better than time-based ones. The promise of a break after a fixed amount of time — whether or not you’ve gotten any work done — enables you to slack off. The reduced productivity means you’ll probably spend even longer working on the task than you would have otherwise.
Give Yourself an Incentive
A bit of competitive spirit helps motivate most people, so challenging yourself to complete work in a certain way or in a certain amount of time can be the incentive you need to get work done. You may even find it helpful to challenge your coworkers, whether explicitly or just in your own mind.
This also ties in with taking breaks and prioritizing certain tasks. The promise of a break after you finish some work makes you more eager to do it. Knowing easier tasks wait for you once you’re done with boring and repetitive ones does the same. With the added motivation from these, dull tasks get done faster.
Fix Your Work Set-Up
Your work environment is crucial to your productivity and willingness to work. A messy environment can be distracting and makes your task seem even less appealing than it already may be. Make sure your desk is as free from clutter as possible, with nothing on it except things that are absolutely necessary.
You should also aim for a workspace that makes you feel comfortable and even happy. Keep family or pet photos pinned up, decorate or furnish the area with colors you like (preferably bright ones), and maybe keep a memento or two on your desk. That is, as long as it’s not cluttering or obstructing any usable space.
No matter how boring a task is, a bit of distraction can always help complete it. A common suggestion in this regard is listening to music or podcasts. Keep a playlist ready to go whenever you have repetitive work to complete, and it should provide the distraction you need to keep from going insane at your desk.
Some also suggest keeping sweet snacks handy. Whether it’s jelly beans or a bit of chocolate, consuming some sugar when you start to feel tired can help give you the energy boost you need to stay alert and aware.
Switching between tasks from time to time can help in the same way. Doing the same thing over and over is a recipe for boredom. Instead, alternate between things you like doing and those you don’t to ensure you don’t fall victim to it. This also means you don’t have to suffer through a large block of uninteresting work for hours on end, which makes it more tolerable.
You may also find interest in improving your skills or learning something new in between tasks. Whether related to your job or not, the sense of accomplishment you feel when you get better at something improves your morale and, in turn, kills the tedium.
Learn to live with it
Changing your mindset can change everything else about your job, too. Every job gets boring at times, no matter what. What matters, though, is that you make the most of it. By learning to enjoy these uninteresting tasks, you can make them infinitely more tolerable and easier to deal with.
For starters, try to remember that no matter how repetitive and tedious a task seems, it is important. Many jobs hinge on these tasks, so there will always be someone who needs to do them. Others may or may not appreciate that you doing this work makes their lives easier, but it holds true either way.
By changing your mindset and focusing wholeheartedly on the task at hand, you can also make the hours seem to slip by faster. This is a lot easier to accomplish once you’re used to the task and can do it on autopilot — and with some tunes in the background, if you follow the suggestion of listening to music.
As stated in the beginning, all jobs have their boring parts. What matters, though, is that you make the most out of them and try to complete them in the most efficient way possible. If you adopt a negative mindset and set to complaining about them, you’ll find they take even longer to complete. If you’ve tried all the above strategies and still can’t seem to find any motivation to do your job, though, it may be time for a new one. Not every job is right for us, of course, but it can’t hurt to try and make your current job worth doing before giving up for good.